AccueilSnapshots of Change

Snapshots of Change

Assessing Social Transformations in Qualitative Research

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Publié le mercredi 11 février 2015 par Céline Guilleux

Résumé

The study of “change” is a central research topic in social science. However, how can we concretely assess social change when we conduct qualitative research which is based on case studies, and has a limited scope of inquiry both in terms of time and space? This international workshop seeks to address this key methodological issue through an interdisciplinary dialogue. On the basis of concrete empirical examples, we would like to focus on the available means that enable us to overcome obstacles encountered when studying change through qualitative research.

Annonce

Argument

The study of “change” is a central research topic in social science. While this topic has been an inherent concern of the literature on modernization or globalization for instance, it has become all the more visible today in contexts in which collective claims for social and political change fill the news, as was the case during the recent uprisings in the Arab World and the crisis in Europe. Consequently, many theoretical works have offered general frameworks for change, while historical, sociological and anthropological research has been attempting the same on a more restricted scale. In order to gain terminological purchase on these processes of transformation, notions such as development, transition and rupture, as well as reconfiguration and continuity through change have gained much prominence.

However, how can we concretely assess social change when we conduct qualitative research which is based on case studies, and has a limited scope of inquiry both in terms of time and space? This question concerns especially researchers who use ethnographic methods of investigation and who are consequently bound to analyse ‘snap-shots’ of the studied societies while relying mainly on testimonies or on secondary literature to grasp possible transformations. The debate surrounding the pertinence of such methods is not new. It dates back at least to the disputes led by the functionalists on the relevance of diachronic research in anthropology. The question of how to set time-frames exists also among historians for whom periodization is an object of constant struggle and has evolved, for instance, around the question of how to connect different temporal and spatial scales and how to identify points of rupture in history. The complexity of human societies makes it difficult to know which elements to consider as relevant. Very often the multiple dynamics that are observable at any one time give an incoherent picture, where no clear direction is discernible.

This international workshop seeks to address this key methodological issue through an interdisciplinary dialogue. On the basis of concrete empirical examples, we would like to focus on the available means that enable us to overcome obstacles encountered when studying change through qualitative research. We are particularly interested in the three following dimensions but other proposals falling into the workshop topic are also welcome:

  1. What kind of data enables us to assess social change in qualitative research?
  2. How should we approach the ways actors conceptualize change? What are the benefits of imposing an epistemological break with these conceptualizations and what do we gain or lose by studying them as an object of inquiry in their own right, to be described in their socially and historically situated settings?
  3. How do we position our research in relation to different temporalities and scales of change: short- and long-term approaches, individual and collective temporalities, local and global? How do we connect these different scales?

The presentations should be supported by concrete examples showing the method employed. The scope of relevance of the assessed change should be another aspect to scrutinize, as well as the lines of causality which are drawn consequently.

Time never stops, but change has its own scope which we will try to explore.

Guidelines Submission

The abstracts (150 words), a CV, and a list of publications should be sent to the organisers

before the 1st of March 2015.

International Workshop – 23-24 October 2015, URPP Asia and Europe – University of Zurich

Organisation Committee

The Organisation Committee will select the proposals

  • Dr. Yasmine Berriane: yasmine.berriane@uzh.ch
  • Dr. Aymon Kreil: aymon.kreil@uzh.ch
  • Thiruni Kelegama: thiruni.kelegama@geo.uzh.ch
  • Prof. Dorothea Lüddeckens: dorothea.lueddeckens@uzh.ch
  • Dr. Melek Saral: melek.saral@uzh.ch

Lieux

  • URPP Asia and Europe - Wiesenstr. 7/9
    Zurich, Confédération Suisse (8048)

Dates

  • dimanche 01 mars 2015

Mots-clés

  • change, methodology

Contacts

  • Aymon Kreil
    courriel : aymon [dot] kreil [at] uzh [dot] ch
  • Yasmine Berriane
    courriel : yasmine [dot] berriane [at] uzh [dot] ch

Source de l'information

  • Aymon Kreil
    courriel : aymon [dot] kreil [at] uzh [dot] ch

Pour citer cette annonce

« Snapshots of Change », Appel à contribution, Calenda, Publié le mercredi 11 février 2015, http://calenda.org/317237