One of the weaknesses of research in Africa is the little consideration that is given to questions of epistemology and methodology. What we see is the trivialization of research protocols which, consequently, are reduced to fantasy prescriptions that detach social studies from universal debates over the validity of science rather than an interrogation of research procedures induced by the complexity of social dynamics. As a result, social sciences have become an imitative discourse and a recital of exotic anecdotes without perspectives. Knowledge production therefore loses any heuristic bearing. It is on the basis of this reality that attempts to correct this tendency have been made in this book by discussing the methodological foundation of social science knowledge.
This volume is a collection of papers presented during methodological workshops organized by CODESRIA. Its objective is to revitalize theory and methodology in field work in Africa while contributing to the creation of a critical space hinged upon the mastery of epistemological bases which are indispensable to any scientific imagination.
Far from being a collection of technical certainties and certified methods, this book interrogates the uncertain itinerary of the process of social logics discovery. In that sense, it is a decisive step towards a critical systemization of ongoing theories and practices within the African scientific community. The reader can, therefore, identify the philosophical, historical, sociological and anthropological foundations of object construction, field data exploitation and research results delivery. This book explains the importance of the philosophical and social modalities of scientific practice, the influence of local historical contexts, the different usages of new investigative tools, including the audiovisual tools. Finally, the book, backed by classical theories, serves as an invitation toward considering scientific commitment to African field research from a reflective perspective.
Jean-Bernard Ouédraogo is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Research Group on Local Initiatives (GRIL) at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. He is the author of Violences et communautés en Afrique (1997); Arts photographiques en Afrique : technique et esthétique dans la photographie de studio au Burkina Faso (2003) and editor of Global Exchanges and Gender Perspectives in Africa (2010). He has published numerous articles on the city, migration, labour, photography and on the methodology of social sciences which he has taught for many years.
Carlos Cardoso was Senior Programme Officer at the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He is the author of several books and articles, including: Ki-Yang-Yang: une nouvelle religion des Ballantes? (1990); La transition démocratique en Guinée-Bissau: un accouchement difficile (1995); La transition démocratique en Guinée-Bissau et autres essais (1996).
ISBN: 978 286978 483 3
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