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  • Author: Patrick Chabal
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: An ever more pressing issue in the social sciences today is the question of standpoint. From where do social scientists identify and analyse the problems they wish to understand and explain? Which theories do they deploy and why? And what concepts do they use to achieve enlightening results? This question is more often than not elided, both because we feel secure in the use of the standard theories we employ, and because we are not accustomed to think critically about the matter of standpoint, or perspective. Having acquired the theoretical tools of our discipline, we are not tempted to re-examine their merit whenever we embark on our analytical journeys. However, there are now voices calling into question this unthinking use of social, political and economic theories. Two critiques are particularly significant. The first is that which challenges social theory on the grounds that it is the theoretical tool of the West, or North, which is blind to the fact that, in the words of Edward Saïd, it is 'Orientalist'. The second is that which disputes the 'scientific' nature of the so-called social sciences.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Asia