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Internationalizing the Social Sciences: The Tough Road Ahead

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionFeatherman, David, and Erik Austin . 2008. "Internationalizing the Social Sciences: The Tough Road Ahead." PSC Research Report No. 08-636. 4 2008.

While social science is widely international, it is not well internationalized. That is, social science around the globe is not optimally equipped with an integrated global infrastructure for deploying its powerful assets—such as its core statistical data from national censuses and surveys—to address prevalent and often transnational social problems and dilemmas (e.g., persistent and widening impoverishment), to anticipate global threats (e.g. global warming), nor to aid scholars and practitioners seeking evidence-based solutions constructed from comparable and shared data. Even more fundamentally, the international dialogues of social science conduct theory-based inquiries without benefit of consensually shared concepts—in nearly any of its disciplines—and without a universally accepted language of its science.

This paper presents the plenary remarks prepared for the "International Data Forum" at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, June 5-7, 2007, where researchers gathered to discuss a key facet of any infrastructure for a more internationalized social science—shared and comparable data, and perhaps an organized forum to advance this worthy goal. Here, David Featherman briefly discusses the formidable challenges and benefits to finding ways to share data internationally.

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