Encyclopedia of World Problems - Archived Information

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The fragmentation of society is frequently deplored, as is the fragmentation of knowledge supposedly relevant to any appropriate response to the global problematique. There continue to be calls for integrative, interdisciplinary or unified conceptual approaches to remedy this situation.

However, attempts to develop such approaches have themselves become fragmented, such that certain integrative insights are considered irrelevant, superficial, or misleading by those advancing other such insights. Following token interest in interdisciplinarity, recent years have seen an emphasis on a project-by-project pragmatic approach. This avoids the need for any form of conceptual framework transcending individual disciplines, but begs the question as to the relationship between such projects. Integrative approaches of this kind have proved inadequate or exceedingly difficult to implement in a society characterized by specialization and fragmentation.

There is no ongoing research into interdisciplinarity in its own right and the literature on it is dispersed under many unrelated headings (which library information systems make no attempt to cross-reference). And yet words like "global", "transdisciplinary", "networking" and "system" continue to emerge as the magical "words of power" triggering favourable response to project proposals addressing the global problematique. A minimum requirement at this time is therefore an indication of the range of integrative concepts from which some indication of their unique contributions can be deduced.