This proposal is for funding to hold a series of workshops in problem-solving sociology. Problem-solving sociology is an approach that argues that grappling with real-world problems can lead to breakthroughs in the understanding of society. Research in the sociology of the natural sciences shows that the distinction between basic and applied sciences is overdrawn, and many fundamental advances in basic science have resulted from the pursuit of answers to specific, applied problems. We suggest the same may be true of social science. This proposal is to fund a series of workshops that will help junior scholars (primarily graduate students, plus a few assistant professors) design problem-solving research projects, and specifically, to help scholars avoid three traps common in scholarship that studies social problems: the trap of simply describing or complaining about a problem, the trap of studying only the victims of the problem rather than the process that is causing the problem, and the trap of resting content with critiquing others' proposed solutions without proposing solutions of one's own. Three workshops will be held over the course of the academic year 2018-2019. Each workshop will be a two-day event held at Northwestern University, with a maximum of 15 participants selected from applicants from around the country, plus four faculty facilitators (the PI plus three experts on each of the research topics covered, who will be brought to Northwestern from around the country). The goal of each workshop will be for each participant or group of participants to complete, by the end of the second day, a short proposal for a research project to develop a sociologically-informed solution to the specific problem being discussed.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/18 → 8/31/22|
- National Science Foundation (SES 1823709)
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