Home > Research > I seem to be in an interdisciplinary groove at the moment…

I seem to be in an interdisciplinary groove at the moment…


I’m sitting here in a packed lecture theatre at BCU tonight where various experts from a diverse range of backgrounds are discussing the background, causes, and contexts of the England Riots which happened during the summer (I wrote about the riots here in case you missed it). The event is being held by the criminology department, and with the conference I was at during the weekend, I seem to be in a rich seam of interdisciplinary thought.

The importance of interdisciplinary research is something I’ve been banging on about for a while now, and one of the reasons I tried to organise the Birmingham Cityscapes back in June as a way of bringing together different people working on Birmingham from different backgrounds from the public, private and academic sectors. When we draw on different disciplinary approaches, we are able to obtain a richer, more nuanced perspective, but the difficulty is often getting people with different backgrounds to engage with the literature, the methodologies and approaches from a different field, and the different theoretical orientations from different fields might not necessarily co-exist in a harmonious way.

But despite the difficulties in doing interdisciplinary research, I think that it can be a useful way of obtaining a perspective on a research area which we wouldn’t typically be able to get. For example, the combination of ethnography with quantitative methods in my work and other people’s like Penny Eckert and Norma Mendoza-Denton has led to far more nuanced interpretation of the data than would otherwise be possible with traditional quantitative methods.

Apologies for the shortness of today’s blog, but trying to blog at the same time as listening to a lecture and tweeting about it is mightily difficult. I’m not skilled at multi-tasking…

The Social Linguist

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