Readings in Methodology: African Perspectives. Edited by Jean-Bernard Ouédraogo & Carlos Cardoso. Dakar, CODESRIA, 2011, 272 p., ISBN: 978-2-86978-483-3Number of visits: 2096
One of the weaknesses of research in Africa is the little consideration that is given to
questions of epistemology and methodology. What we see is the trivialization of
research protocols which, consequently, are reduced to fantasy prescriptions that
detach social studies from universal debates over the validity of science rather than
an interrogation of research procedures induced by the complexity of social dynamics.
As a result, social sciences have become an imitative discourse and a recital of exotic
anecdotes without perspectives. Knowledge production therefore loses any heuristic
bearing. It is on the basis of this reality that attempts to correct this tendency have been
made in this book by discussing the methodological foundation of social science
This volume is a collection of papers presented during methodological workshops
organized by CODESRIA. Its objective is to revitalize theory and methodology in field
work in Africa while contributing to the creation of a critical space hinged upon the
mastery of epistemological bases which are indispensable to any scientific imagination.
Far from being a collection of technical certainties and certified methods, this book
interrogates the uncertain itinerary of the process of social logics discovery. In that
sense, it is a decisive step towards a critical systemization of ongoing theories and
practices within the African scientific community. The reader can, therefore, identify
the philosophical, historical, sociological and anthropological foundations of object
construction, field data exploitation and research results delivery. This book explains
the importance of the philosophical and social modalities of scientific practice, the
influence of local historical contexts, the different usages of new investigative tools,
including the audiovisual tools. Finally, the book, backed by classical theories, serves
as an invitation toward considering scientific commitment to African field research
from a reflective perspective.
Jean-Bernard Ouédraogo is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Research Group on
Local Initiatives (GRIL) at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. He is the author of
Violences et communautés en Afrique (1997); Arts photographiques en Afrique : technique et
esthétique dans la photographie de studio au Burkina Faso (2003) and editor of Global Exchanges
and Gender Perspectives in Africa (2010). He has published numerous articles on the city, migration,
labour, photography and on the methodology of social sciences which he has taught for many years.
Carlos Cardoso is Senior Programme Officer at the Council for the Development of Social
Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). He is the author of
several books and articles, including: Ki-Yang-Yang : une nouvelle
religion des Ballantes ? (1990); La transition démocratique en
Guinée-Bissau : un accouchement difficile (1995); La transition
démocratique en Guinée-Bissau et autres essais (1996).
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