Much discussion of interdisciplinarity shows one or more of the following defects: 1. conceptual confusion - lack of a refined and consistent set of terms for analysing interdisciplinarity and its variants; 2. utopianism - lack of realism about constraints and possibilities in the social organization of science; 3. monism - advocacy of a single simple organizational model, rather than a complex heterogeneous model with multiple niches, nodes and forms of interaction. The paper presents a more refined, realistic, and pluralistic approach to interdisciplinarity. It does this with special reference to development studies, whose interest in long-run change and common combination of a case-focus and policy-orientation guide it strongly to interdisciplinarity; and to problems raised by the dominant economics conception of itself as a self-sufficient alpha-status discipline. The paper conceptualizes a range of types of interdisciplinarity, and considers how far exemplars of each—such as social capital theory and entitlements analysis—offer ‘bridging capital’, accessible paths to effective social analysis.

Additional Metadata
ISBN 978-0-7391-0783-6
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/1765/50670
Journal ISS Staff Group 2: States, Societies and World Development
Gasper, D.R. (2004). Interdisciplinarity: Building Bridges and Nurturing a Complex Ecology of Ideas. In AK Giri (ed.), Creative Social Research, Delhi: Sage, and Lanham MD: Lexington Books, 2004 (pp. 1–32). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/50670