The new production of knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies

In this provocative and broad-ranging work, the authors argue that the ways in which knowledge – scientific, social and cultural – is produced are undergoing fundamental changes at the end of the twentieth century. They claim that these changes mark a distinct shift into a new mode of knowledge production which is replacing or reforming established institutions, disciplines, practices and policies.

Identifying features of the new mode of knowledge production – reflexivity, transdisciplinarity, heterogeneity – the authors show how these features connect with the changing role of knowledge in social relations. While the knowledge produced by research and development in science and technology is accorded central concern, the authors also outline the changing dimensions of social scientific and humanities knowledge and the relations between the production of knowledge and its dissemination through education.


Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the Public in an Age of Uncertainty

“Re-Thinking Science” presents an account of the dynamic relationship between society and science. Despite the mounting evidence of a much closer, interactive relationship between society and science, current debate still seems to turn on the need to maintain a ‘line’ to demarcate them. The view persists that there is a one-way communication flow from science to society – with scant attention given to the ways in which society communicates with science.

The authors argue that changes in society now make such communications both more likely and more numerous, and that this is transforming science not only in its research practices and the institutions that support it but also deep in its epistemological core. To explain these changes, Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons have developed an open, dynamic framework for re-thinking science.

The authors conclude that the line which formerly demarcated society from science is regularly transgressed and that the resulting closer interaction of science and society signals the emergence of a new kind of science: contextualized or context-sensitive science. The co-evolution between society and science requires a more or less complete re-thinking of the basis on which a new social contract between science and society might be constructed. In their discussion the authors present some of the elements that would comprise this new social contract.

“There is no such thing as economic science. There are social sciences” #piketty #income #wealth #distribution

Thomas ‪Piketty‬: “There is no such thing as economic science. There are social sciences, economic processes involved social control…
We should teach ‪economics‬ much more in conjunction with economic‪ ‎history‬, social history, political history, political science. It’s just impossible to study issues such as dynamics of ‪income‬ and ‪wealth‬, distribution‬ in a purely economic manner. It’s very important that students in economics don’t lose all the energy in abstract mathematical models… [But] too often economists have been doing the opposite: which is [using] very sophisticated mathematical model to explain very little empirical material or sometimes no empirical material at all…
[In order to promote economic ‎justice‬] the first important thing to do is‪ democratization‬ of economic knowledge. Too often bad economic ‎policy‬and economic policies in the interests of the wealthy come from the fact that we, sort of, abandon economic knowledge to group of ‘specialists’ and ‘exerts'”



The meaning of qualitative methods

Throwing an eye over the definition provided by oxford dictionary will make easier to understand the meaning of the term qualitative method. The word “method” refers to “a particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, especially a systematic or established one”. On the other hand, if we claim the same source for the word qualitative it means “relating to, measuring, or measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity”.

In other words, a qualitative method is a particular procedure for approaching something systematically in order to measure it by the quality rather than the quantity. The mere definition of the term is usually made in opposition to “quantitative method” which essentially refers to a procedure to describe something regarding the size. But above all, a qualitative method is about text. The “closed-ended question” usually set in survey questionnaires are replace for “open-ended question” that ask the respondent to suply text responses.

It is important to add that the qualitative methods are originally rooted into social science, it is, psychology, economy, sociology, anthropology but also management science. Although social science´s approach was in its origin more akin to the quantitative method, several scientists noticed, since the end of the XIX century, the limitation of the quantitative approach to the study of human and social behavior. The central argument has been that the application of a survey and experiment research squemata does not take sufficiently into account the differences between human beings and the object from the natural sciences.280px-Bronisław_Malinowski_among_Trobriand_tribe_3

On the contrary, qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews or observation were considered more appropriate to understand the human behavior. Curiously, it was a polish anthropologist, Bronisław Malinowski, who first applied, at the beginning of XX century, what is considered the oldest qualitative method: “participant observation“. By mean this method, he conducted several fieldworks in order to analyze patterns of exchange in aboriginal communities, mainly in Africa and Australia. He remains the hallmark of ethnographic research today.

Perhaps, quantitative approach is still dominant, but the truth is that the qualitative one has also experienced a great development up to date, giving room for many theoretical and empirical positions. Apart from participant observation, other methods as focus group, in-depth interviews and ethnography are an essential part of today´s social science and, specially, regarding market research industry.


Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.

Mella, O. (1998). Naturaleza y orientaciones teórico-metodológicas de la investigación cualitativa. Santiago: CIDE, 51.

Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.

Oxford dictionaries

Qualitative evaluation of research proposals. Part 1

Apart from a more quantitative evaluation of the research proposals in the previous post What is the most common weakness in formulating a research proposal in this and in the next post you will find a more qualitative examination divided into the next points:

1. Lack of connection with theory.

2. Writing style

3. Person used

4. Clarity, structure and content of the research proposal background.

5. Interconnection between different parts of the proposal (background, research question and objectives)

This post will focus the first point, lack of connection with theory.

As you can appreciate in the quantitative analysis, being linked to theory is likely the most common weakness. But what does being linked to theory mean? It means that your research will not be “alone in the Universe”, that your research will be part of other researchers´ work that has contributed to a major understanding of the reality being studied. In other words, and using the metaphor of a puzzle, you must be able to find a gap to be cover by your “puzzle part”, i.e. by your research.

Unless you are entering an undiscovered cave? (which I do not think is your case taking into account your topic research) #criticallyreviewofliterature will provide you with previous works on your topic. To be more concrete, at this initial stage, you do not even need a very deep review. What you actually need is a so called “preliminary review”. In other words, you must perform a superficial search in some directory, like Google scholar, under the appropriate “keywords”. Actually, among the 11 steps required to do a successfull review of literature, finding keywords is likely the most important.

Have you already identified your keywords?