New Creative Social Science for Chosen Quality Futures

The current Village Connections site is an evolution from a  project which continued the work piloted in Hazel Ashton’s doctoral thesis in developing a methodology for locally based or grounded, “civic cosmopolitan projects”

The starting point for such projects it the fact that we all live somewhere. We also all live in a world that is increasingly interdependent. The basic research question for the project is how, in this context, can shared agency be developed which is based on authentic care – what we really care about – to create the kinds of localities and ultimately wider worlds that those who live and work there would like to inhabit. The intention is to go beyond a purely descriptive social scientific methodology towards one that explores how  new possibilities can be created and supported.

The methodological approach to be further developed and discussed is transdisciplinary, as no single discipline by itself has all, or even the best, means of researching the problem at hand and certainly no one person has all the relevant skills. The methodology makes central the agency of people, with their needs and aspirations, in localities. In localities knowledge is socially generated, contextualised, and tested and stabilised. In seeking to understand and support such local agency, it has been seen as fundamental to understand, theorise and connect with what attracts and engages people, and with what produces meaning for them.

Theorists drawn on thus far include:

  • Gerard Delanty (civic cosmopolitanism, cultural citizenship, role of the university, community)
  • Michael Burawoy (public sociology)
  • Manuel Castells (global network society)
  • Ulrich Beck (global risk society)
  • Klaus Eder and Piet Strydom (framing, collective learning, in particular for sustainable living)
  • Scott Lash (reflexive modernisation, inclusive community, aesthetics – engaging with publics, what gives people meaning)
  • Paul Ricoeur (literary and philosophical theory linking with developmental social theory – mediation and possibilities)
  • Tammy Bennington and Geri Gay (phenomenology, film and interactive video game theory and Ricoeur’s framework)
  • Helga Nowotny, Michael Gibbons and Peter Scott (transdisciplinary based methodology, where people and their needs are at the centre and where knowledge contextualised locally).