Making Social Science Matter?: Case Studies from Community Development and Empowerment Education Research in Rural Ghana and Aboriginal Australia

  •  Komla Tsey    


Despite potential opportunities offered by exceptional advances in science and technology, we are increasingly polarised from each other. Social inequalities, poverty and deprivation are only a few of the challenges facing most societies. By combining the theoretical perspective of Bent Flyvberg’s Making Social Science Matter (2001) and related Perestroika discourse with insights from community development and empowerment research in rural Ghana and Aboriginal Australia, this paper demonstrates a strengths-based approach to social science that builds social capital through enhancing the capacity of individuals and communities to routinely consider ethical questions; where they are going; what can be done to make things better. Focus is on Flyvbjerg’s challenge to social scientists to undertake research relevant to challenges and opportunities facing contemporary society. Highlighted is a need for researchers to reflect more explicitly about ways they seek to make their work relevant to people with whom they work. Strengths-based approaches, grounded in relevant ethical values, norms and local histories and traditions, offer one avenue for making social research relevant.

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