Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mode-2 knowledge production

Improving our levels of awareness under a transdisciplinary way of thinking, may probably give us a new vision of reality and allow a better understanding of the world.
But now what? How can we go further?
As we saw on the previous post, Anthony Jude stated that:
“it is useful to hypothesize the existence of a fifth form (Transisciplinarity-4) that might in future combine the characteristics of the other forms in a more operationally fruitful way”
This, pulls Transdisciplinarity into the position of being a tool of excellence in problem solving strategies. On the other hand, Transdisciplinarity should play an important role on the making of new knowledge. This is what we can call transdisciplinary research.
One virtue you need when working in transdisciplinary research: patience. You must be very patient indeed. The evidence clearly shows that developing transdisciplinary teaching takes time and commitment from both academics and institutions.
Helga Nowotny

On her paper on The Potential of Transdisciplinarity, Helga Nowotny announces that “a new form of knowledge production has emerged”. She and some other authors, like Michael Gibbons, called it Mode-2. They introduced the idea of Mode-2 “in order to bring in a new way of thinking about science, which is often described in strictly disciplinary terms”.

… in Mode 1 problems are set and solved in a context governed by the, largely academic, interests of a specific community. By contrast, Mode 2 knowledge is carried out in a context of application. Mode 1 is disciplinary while Mode 2 is transdisciplinary. Mode 1 is characterised by homogeneity, Mode 2 by heterogeneity. Organisationally, Mode 1 is hierarchical and tends to preserve its form, while Mode 2 is more heterarchical and transient. Each employs a different type of quality control. In comparison with Mode 1, Mode 2 is more socially accountable and reflexive. It includes a wider, more temporary and heterogeneous set of practitioners, collaborating on a problem defined in a specific and localized context.
(Gibbons et al., 1994, p.1)

Gibbons, M., Nowotny, H., Limoges, C., Schwartzman, S., Scott, P. & Trow, M. (1994). The New Production of Knowledge: The dynamics of science and research in contemporary societies. London : Sage

Recently, (20 December 2005) some of these authors, presented a reaction to the mixed reviews on that book. They say on the Introduction of ‘Mode 2’ Revisited: The New Production of Knowledge:
Some philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science regarded the argument in the book as either simplistic or banal (or perhaps both), while science policy analysts worried about the empirical evidence for the trends it identified (or argued that these trends were not new). However, the book’s broad thesis – that the production of knowledge and the process of research were being radically transformed – struck a chord of recognition among both researchers and policy-makers
Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott & Michael Gibbons

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