The session “Decolonizing Social Science Methodology – Overcoming Positivism and Constructivism” starts from the observation that epistemological approaches in the tradition of e.g. constructivism, relativism, postmodernism or postcolonialism stress that empirical findings are strongly influenced both by the researcher’s social position and positioning in the world- system and by the social organization of doing science. The sociology of science has provided strong empirical evidence for this position. This means that, if researchers find (dis)similarities between different social contexts, it is not clear, if these (dis)similarities result from actual substantial differences or rather e.g. from diverging theoretical perspectives, research styles, ways of doing methods or different reactions of the field to social science research.
At the same time, approaches in the tradition of e.g. positivism or critical radicalism stress that it is important that science upholds the ideals of searching for truth, intersubjectivity and empirical evidence and that relativism is also a fallacy because – if taken seriously – what is the difference between “fake news”, “alternative facts” and scientific knowledge? Moreover, many research questions in the social sciences require certainty about (dis)similarities between contexts, e.g. in social inequality research.
So far, suggestions to overcome these contrasting demands on social science methodology have mostly focused on methods, e.g. by mixing methods or applying cross-cultural survey methods.
In contrast, this session aims at addressing the underlying deeper epistemological and methodological issues which remain mainly unresolved: how to overcome the divide between positivism and constructivism, address historical and present power relations and truly decolonize social science methodology? We invite papers that deal with these methodological questions stemming both from theoretical and empirical considerations.
For further information on the conference, see: https://www.isa-sociology.org/en/conferences/forum/porto-alegre-2020
If you are interested in giving a presentation, please submit an English-language abstract by 30.09.3019 via Confex: https://isaconf.confex.com/isaconf/forum2020/webprogrampreliminary/Session14715.html