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Social Research Seminars Series
Social Research Seminars Series is a seminar series of the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences. Social Research Seminar Series is a set of talks given by speakers representing the disciplines of the Doctoral Programme. The talks are open to everyone interested. Read more
The 4th Annual Conference for the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change and the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences, University of Helsinki:
“Beyond Truth and Falsity?”
The Social Sciences in an Age of Uncertainty
Time: 24-25 October 2017
Venue: Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40
Today, researchers are faced with a growing scepticism concerning the value of scientific knowledge and the authority of expertise, suspicions increasingly stemming from external sources such as populist politics and antagonistic media. For social sciences, this trend not only poses a potential crisis of legitimacy but also provides an object of investigation in itself.
In this fourth annual graduate conference, we especially invite proposals that address evolving challenges for the production, justification, and public dissemination of social-scientific knowledge and criticism. We welcome papers that deal with the societal and intellectual developments behind the current predicament, contributions that elucidate how the problems in question may affect individual disciplines, and new openings that strive to articulate plausible paths forward for social inquiry under conditions of amplified uncertainty.
Suitable topics for discussion include the status of social-scientific knowledge in the so-called “post-truth era” and other epistemic issues facing the social sciences today:
- How should social inquiry deal with increasing fragmentation and pluralism?
- Can we still find some common ground in research and public life? Or should we engage in the serious investigation and establishing of plural grounds for social research?
- How does the alleged “data boom” affect social inquiry? What constitutes data in different kinds of social research, and by what means should it be interpreted?
- How can we analyse and address uncertainties in an age of uncertainty?
Contributors can also address long-running but still highly pertinent questions concerning the aims and methods of social research:
- Are the social sciences primarily objective and truth-seeking enterprises, or does their legitimation stand on a different basis?
- Should social inquiry embrace advocacy and political activism? How do social scientists engage in their communities? Should we actively challenge academic ivory towers?
- How should we deal with regional differences and inequalities, and the tension between promotion of diversity and pursuits of global justice?
- Do we need new conceptions of social research and its methods to respond to contemporary quandaries, or should we rather defend and improve the time-honoured tools of the trade?
Other topics of interest include emerging challenges for the ethics of social research and questions pertaining to popularisation and the broader public accessibility of social-scientific knowledge.
The event will bring together PhD candidates, PhD supervisors, and junior and senior-level researchers from different social-scientific oriented disciplines. The conference consists of plenary sessions as well as workshops in which doctoral candidates have the opportunity to present their papers and receive feedback from peers, colleagues, professors, and experts in their fields. We warmly welcome doctoral candidates to present their research at the conference.
Credits: 5 (per semester)
Type of course: Training in research methodologies
When taught: Both semesters, but students need only attend one
Lecturer in charge: Sarah Green
- To provide training in ethnographic and related methodologies
- To give examples of the use of these methodologies in practice
- To explain the relationship between ethnographic methods, methodologies and epistemologies
- To help researchers develop a critical understanding of ethnographic methodologies through studying examples of research carried out by the lecturers themselves.
- To deepen researchers' understanding of kind of knowledge that ethnographic methods provides
On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:
- Understand the process through which ethnographic research is carried out
- Be better able to critically assess the means by which research is done, and thus gain a deeper understanding of the kinds of knowledge that ethnographic methodologies can provide.
- Develop an ability to understand what constitutes a research question that can be answered using ethnographic methodology.
- Gain the skills necessary to learn how to develop ethnographically-oriented research questions.
This course will be team-taught. Research-active members of staff will each spend two weeks going through ethnographic research that they themselves have carried out. They will describe the idea of the research, the development of the study, how the study was carried out, and finally, the results. Students on the course will look at materials relating to these projects in detail, examining the ethnographic, theoretical, regional, topical, thematic, and/or ethical aspects of the projects. In addition, students will go through related literature and comparative material, so that they can look at the project in context. Over the course of each semester, students will build up a thorough knowledge of the way that ethnographic methodologies are used in practice.
Each semester, the themes to be covered will vary according to the member of staff teaching the course.