Implicit Sociology, Interdisciplinarity and Systems Theories

Jansen, Kees (2008) Implicit Sociology, Interdisciplinarity and Systems Theories in Agricultural Science. Sociologia Ruralis, 49(2): 172‐188.
Recurring political and economic crises in agriculture lie behind policymakers’ demands for more interdisciplinary, problem‐solving
approaches. This article examines different systems theories in agricultural sciences that claim to adopt interdisciplinarity and to
bridge a supposed gap between the natural and social sciences. It analyses the debates and differences between so‐called ‘hard systems’
and ‘soft systems’ approaches, or positivist and interpretative approaches. It aims to make the confrontation between these two approaches more legible as well as to reveal the shortcomings of each position. In particular, the implicit and unsophisticated sociology
underlying the hard systems approach is a key issue. Critical realist theory is explored as an alternative to both the hard and the soft
systems approach towards interdisciplinarity since it opens up space for thinking in a non‐reductionist way about multiple determinations
without rejecting the value of single disciplines for uncovering the working of important causalities.

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