The need to solve increasingly complex problems with a view to sustainability reinforces ‘cross-disciplinary’ forms of learning and problem solving ‘integrating’ perspectives and insights; thus, the cooperation of diverse academic experts (and, lately, practitioners) is called for. Among the multiple forms of ‘integration’ found in literature, transdisciplinary approaches, such as ‘post-normal’ and ‘mode 2’ science, are especially interesting. In the present paper, a comprehensive a review of the main modes of ‘cross-disciplinary’ research (and development intervention) is followed by a critical examination based on the tenets of Critical Realism (CR). The latter, with its realist, differentiated and stratified ontology allows for new insights concerning ‘cross-disciplinarity’. For CR the integrative part of ‘cross-disciplinary’ research is the integration of knowledge (i.e., close collaboration among researchers from different disciplines) about a complex phenomenon. Furthermore, the relation between researchers as well as between researchers and practitioners is conceived to be, despite difficulties/barriers, a reciprocal learning process. Finally, some of the problems concerning the cooperation of experts and local populations (‘participatory processes’) are addressed. Emphasis is given to the so-called ‘external’ obstacles, i.e. the hegemony of the experts within ‘participatory’ projects’ (hegemony of problems and hegemony of appointing participants) and the techno-financial bias of projects (‘dual’ logic of projects). The aforementioned issues provide interesting hints for the theoretical and practical work of experts and practitioners especially those involved in development work.
|Keywords:||Transdisciplinarity, Critical Realism, Participatory Development, Sustainability|
Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Attica, Greece
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