Steps to Global Social Sciences? The field, the stakes, and practices

Enzo Colombo, Gianmarco Navarini


While transforming the world, globalization processes have put social sciences under stress. Several voices, notably from the so-called ‘Global South’, claim a radical revision – if not total rejection – of the (Western) social sciences. It has become evident that the tool-kit of concepts and methods inherited from modernity seems incapable of grasping the complexity and variability of both current social experience and ways of getting to know the world, actually shaped by a plurality of voices, interest, historical traditions. The awareness of a plurality of different perspectives that characterize the social sciences well beyond their classical-western formulation is creating a field that seems to push social sciences themselves towards two opposed directions. The paper offers a way to navigate through this field. On the one hand, part of this field tries to regain the solid ground of one shared scientific knowledge, overcoming diversity and particularity, running after a rigorous definition of methodological and conceptual tools that can help to found a renewed universalistic comprehension of the complexity of current societies. On the other hand, another relevant part of social sciences seems to surrender to the unavoidability of partial, instable and biased knowledge. The field created by these two parts raises the question of whether the distance between them is really unbridgeable, and yet the question is becoming the subject of considerable, often conflicting, scholarship. Besides illustrating the rationale of the different positions, we argue that integrating the current scholarships about the ‘theoretical and methodological’ content of social sciences may be possible only with a critical reflection about the actual ‘practices’ of doing social sciences.


Social theory. Globalization. Complexity. Postcolonialism. Universalism. Relativism.

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Revista Diálogos Possíveis. ISSN impresso 1677-7603
ISSN eletrônico 2447-9047