ENQUIRE: Volume Six

Issue 1 - Interdisciplinarity: Grounding social research and practice in an age of complexity


The interconnectedness of our world has never been more apparent. In a challenge to sociology and the social sciences, contemporary researchers attempt to explain the complexity of social worlds by embracing methods and theoretical approaches that push beyond the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines.

Interdisciplinarity as a concept may serve a multiplicity of goals in research, policy and practice. It may include the need to answer complex questions and broad issues, beyond the scope of a single discipline, as well as the need to achieve unity of knowledge in a fragmented world. Arguments for interdisciplinarity appeal to notions of pulling together to solve common problems, which has resonance in the practice sphere with calls for multi-agency working and efficiency.

But is the call for interdisciplinarity a generalised plea for cooperation or is it something more? How are we to consider this challenge to established academic disciplines? How do we 'do' interdisciplinarity in our research? What does such research set out to achieve? Why do policy-makers look to multi-agency practices to solve complex issues? How should we reconcile the appeal of interdisciplinarity with warnings that it threatens distinctions between genres and leads to the loss of disciplinary identities?

Volume 6 of ENQUIRE sets a new precedent for the journal as it combines papers presented at the 2012 ENQUIRE Conference "Interdisciplinarity: Grounding social research and practice in an age of complexity" with high quality responses to an open call for papers on any theme from any social science discipline. In the special section on interdisciplinarity, Stephen Frosh's keynote addresses the destabilising effects of interdisciplinarity within the field of psychosocial studies, and Cassie Earl explores a multi- and transdisciplinary approach to studying the Occupy Movement from an educational perspective. In the open call section, Heather Watkins describes and evaluates the application of political ethnography to a study of the politics of community participation in areas of inner city and post-coalfield reconstruction in the East Midlands, UK.

The Editorial Team were very impressed with the quality of submissions received and would like to thank all of the authors that submitted a paper, including those we were unable to publish. Many thanks are also due to the peer reviewers who generously gave their time, and those that helped us find them. Finally, we are extremely grateful to Amal Treacher Kabesh, Kezia Scales, Agnes Bezzina, Warren Pearce, James Tangen, Greg Hollin, and Olumide Adisa for their availability and their indispensable support and guidance.

Transdisciplinary Tensions and Psychosocial Studies (pp 1-15)
Stephen Frosh (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Full article

Being realistic by demanding the Impossible: Beginning the bricolage (pp 16-38)
Cassie Earl (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Full article

A Theoretical and Methodological Approach to the Politics of Community: the Application of "Political Ethnography" (pp 39-59)
Heather Watkins (University of Nottingham)
Full article


School of Sociology and Social Policy

Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact us