chapter 1 - BookID 185181_ChapID 1_Proof 1 1...

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1 Interdisciplinarity and Economic Growth 1.1 Applying Interdisciplinary Analysis to the Study of Growth What are the causes of economic growth? There is perhaps no more important question in all of human science. Billions of people live in abject poverty and their hopes for the future rely on sustained economic growth. Economic growth may be of less critical importance for those who are already comfortable, but here too the achievement of an environmentally sustainable and capability-enhancing future hinges on an understanding of the causes of growth. There is also perhaps no more complex question in human science, for it is clear from contemporary scholarship that a very wide array of phenomena at least potentially influences rates of eco- nomic growth. Many of these phenomena are economic in nature, but many are not. Thus the question lends itself to interdisciplinary exploration. We will argua- bly gain our best understanding of economic growth if we integrate the under- standings of economists, political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, and others. If this is so, then it follows that we will want to follow ‘best-practice’ strategies for interdisciplinary analysis in exploring economic growth. Fortunately, the scholarship of interdisciplinarity has suggested how interdisciplinary research should best proceed. The contribution of this book is to follow a twelve-step proc- ess for interdisciplinary analysis in exploring the causes of growth. Interdisciplinarity: It is increasingly advocated by university presidents, govern- ment research granting agencies, and public intellectuals. Pressing social problems, we are told, do not come in tidy disciplinary bundles but require the combined insights of many scholarly communities. This argument regarding the complexity of social policy reflects recent developments in natural science and technology, where it is likewise felt that advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, or in- formation technology require interdisciplinary approaches. Yet at the same time demia as to whether interdisciplinarity is desirable or even possible. The vast majority of academics has a narrow graduate training in one discipline or sub- discipline, and has spent their careers examining even narrower questions. They naturally wonder how scholars, even in groups, can master enough of the detail of multiple disciplines in order to perform quality interdisciplinary research. 1 Less 1 Dogan (1998, 98) raises a common concern that it is simply impossible to master two or more disciplines, and thus ‘the idea of interdisciplinary research is illusory.’ Yet Dogan urges integration across subfields of disciplines. This book relies on a more general argument that powerful integrative analysis is possible without having a practitioner level of mastery in each of the overall disciplinary perspective of a discipline and of the theories and methods relevant the sense of being able to reproduce the works they cite, but need only to comprehend the
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This note was uploaded on 11/20/2010 for the course ECONOMICS 331 taught by Professor Mj during the Fall '10 term at University of Alberta.

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chapter 1 - BookID 185181_ChapID 1_Proof 1 1...

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