Area Studies versus Disciplines: Towards an Interdisciplinary, Systemic Country Approach

By Hans Kuijper.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper argues for a truly interdisciplinary, synergistic area approach, for applying cybersystemic and holistic thinking in the study of countries (regions of the world), for awakening to the interdependence and complementarity of different disciplines, concerned with the study of aspects of the world. At their very best, area studies are no more than multidisciplinary in character. Consisting of juxtaposed, not yet integrated partial studies, they are essentially disjointed. Providing the reader with a Humpty-Dumpty broken into bits, they are not compositions. Since unity-in-variety and variety-in-unity are universally recognized as criteria of excellence, area studies should be gobelins, or banquets, not patchworks, or buffets. Having established that scientific collaboration is not only necessary but also valuable, the author proceeds with an examination of the impediments to interdisciplinarity occasionally brought forward, and then elaborates (probably for the first time) on the contributions that systems theory, (socio) cybernetics, complexity theory and the accelerating developments in computer science and information technology could make to area studies. Thinking through the teaming up of students who use to focus their attention on one or other aspect of a country, he also touches on the importance of comparative research. In ‘summary and conclusion’ area students are exhaustively categorized. The provocative article, which is an exercise in second-order research, winds up with a call, not to ameliorate or innovate but to transform area (and era!) studies, radically.

Keywords: Area Studies, Social Sciences, Humanities, Interdisciplinarity, Systems Theory, Complexity, e-Science

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 7, pp.205-216. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 636.416KB).

Hans Kuijper


The Netherlands


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