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At the nexus of problem-solving and critical research

Mahmoud, Yahia LU ; Jerneck, Anne LU ; Kronsell, Annica LU and Steen, Karin LU (2018) In Ecology and Society 23(4).
Abstract
The analytical distinction between critical and problem-solving research is useful. At the onset of research, the latter takes the world as it is while the former questions it. Yet, in striving to integrate social and natural dimensions of sustainability such a distinction may surface as a methodological obstacle. We illustrate how combining critical with problem-solving approaches can help us imagine, understand, and enable transitions to sustainability. First, we trace the historical divide and potential complementarity between critical and problem-solving approaches in the natural and social sciences and how critical approaches in the social sciences are informed by critical theory. Inspired by Robert Cox, we then analyze a set of PhD... (More)
The analytical distinction between critical and problem-solving research is useful. At the onset of research, the latter takes the world as it is while the former questions it. Yet, in striving to integrate social and natural dimensions of sustainability such a distinction may surface as a methodological obstacle. We illustrate how combining critical with problem-solving approaches can help us imagine, understand, and enable transitions to sustainability. First, we trace the historical divide and potential complementarity between critical and problem-solving approaches in the natural and social sciences and how critical approaches in the social sciences are informed by critical theory. Inspired by Robert Cox, we then analyze a set of PhD theses in an interdisciplinary research program engaging in critical and problem-solving research, on and for sustainability. We do so based on Cox’s terminology, especially the concepts of ideas, institutions, material capabilities, and frameworks for action, and then show how selected research narratives apply them. To conclude, we emphasize that integrated understandings of human-environmental dynamics are facilitated by multiscalar approaches, theoretical and methodological pluralism, and a combination of natural and social science theory, typical of the interdisciplinary research field of sustainability science. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
human-environmental dynamics, interdisciplinarity, methodological pluralism, sustainability science, sustainability studies
in
Ecology and Society
volume
23
issue
4
publisher
The Resilience Alliance
external identifiers
  • scopus:85059447691
ISSN
1708-3087
DOI
10.5751/ES-10458-230440
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
44db90fb-74f3-4d62-a7e3-798e32767a31
date added to LUP
2018-12-11 12:03:03
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:39:52
@article{44db90fb-74f3-4d62-a7e3-798e32767a31,
  abstract     = {The analytical distinction between critical and problem-solving research is useful. At the onset of research, the latter takes the world as it is while the former questions it. Yet, in striving to integrate social and natural dimensions of sustainability such a distinction may surface as a methodological obstacle. We illustrate how combining critical with problem-solving approaches can help us imagine, understand, and enable transitions to sustainability. First, we trace the historical divide and potential complementarity between critical and problem-solving approaches in the natural and social sciences and how critical approaches in the social sciences are informed by critical theory. Inspired by Robert Cox, we then analyze a set of PhD theses in an interdisciplinary research program engaging in critical and problem-solving research, on and for sustainability. We do so based on Cox’s terminology, especially the concepts of ideas, institutions, material capabilities, and frameworks for action, and then show how selected research narratives apply them. To conclude, we emphasize that integrated understandings of human-environmental dynamics are facilitated by multiscalar approaches, theoretical and methodological pluralism, and a combination of natural and social science theory, typical of the interdisciplinary research field of sustainability science.},
  articleno    = {40},
  author       = {Mahmoud, Yahia and Jerneck, Anne and Kronsell, Annica and Steen, Karin},
  issn         = {1708-3087},
  keyword      = {human-environmental dynamics,interdisciplinarity,methodological pluralism,sustainability science,sustainability studies},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  publisher    = {The Resilience Alliance},
  series       = {Ecology and Society},
  title        = {At the nexus of problem-solving and critical research},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10458-230440},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2018},
}