The Refiguration of Spaces and the Refiguration of Epistemic Cultures: The Changing Balance of Involvement and Engagement in Fundamental and Applied Research

Keywords: ross-cultural comparison, refiguration of spaces, figurational sociology, sociology of science, involvement and detachment, epistemic cultures, fundamental sciences, applied sciences, sociology, urban planning

Abstract

The second FQS thematic issue on "The Refiguration of Spaces and Cross-Cultural Comparison" differs from the first as follows: 1. it covers a wider range of disciplines, 2. authors emphasize more strongly the spatial instead of the temporal aspects of the refiguration of spaces, and 3. focus is placed on researchers' practices of comparison rather than on how to compare different subject matters. These practices of comparison become particularly obvious when comparing "fundamental" sciences such as sociology with applied sciences such as urban planning. In research practice, researchers have to balance what Norbert ELIAS (2007 [1987]) called "involvement" and "detachment." In different disciplines with diverging epistemic cultures, involvement and detachment have been balanced differently. Using the examples of German-language sociology and urban planning, we illustrate this by discussing how fundamental and applied scientists weigh involvement and detachment in research practice and how this relationship of involvement and detachment has been changing in the course the refiguration of spaces. We conclude by reflecting on how differences in the balance between involvement and detachment in different epistemic cultures influence the relationship between practices of cross-cultural comparison and the refiguration of spaces, as well as what question should be asked in future research.

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Author Biographies

Nina Baur, Technische Universität Berlin

Nina BAUR is professor for methods of social research at Technische Universität Berlin, director of the "Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability" (GCSMUS) at Technische Universität Berlin and member of the Methods Lab of the Collaborative Research Center "Refiguration of Spaces" (CRC 1265), funded by the German Research Foundation. Furthermore, she is past president of the Research Committee on Social Science Methodology (RC33), board member of the Research Committee on Historical Sociology (RC56) of the International Sociology Association (ISA), and managing editor of the journal Historical Social Research (HSR). Her research fields include social science methodology, process sociology, spatial sociology, and economic sociology.

Ignacio Castillo Ulloa, Technische Universität Berlin

Ignacio CASTILLO ULLOA is a scientific coordinator of the "Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability" (GCSMUS) at Technische Universität Berlin and a research associate in the subproject "Education: The Spatial Knowledge of Children and Young Adults (and Its Application) in Planning Contexts" (A02) of the Collaborative Research Center "Refiguration of Spaces" (CRC 1265), funded by the German Research Foundation. In his research, he focuses on uneven socio-spatial development and alternative disruptive (local) practices that counteract it; critical urban research; and the use of Lacanian theory to explore interrelations among planning theory, research, and practice.

Stephen Mennell, University College Dublin

Stephen MENNELL is professor emeritus of sociology at University College Dublin and an honorary professor at the University of Leicester. From 1997 to 2016, he was a member of the board of the Norbert Elias Foundation, and he is general editor of the collected works of Norbert ELIAS in English. From 2010 to 2016, he served as president of the Working Group Historical and Comparative Sociology (WG02) of the International Sociological Association which was upgraded to the Research Committee on Historical Sociology (RC56) in 2016. His research interests are sociology of food, political economy, sociological theory and figurational sociology.

Angela Million, Technische Universität Berlin

Angela MILLION, née UTTKE, is professor of urban design and urban development and director of the "Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability" (GCSMUS) at Technische Universität Berlin. Furthermore, she is member of the Methods Lab and principal investigator in the subproject "Education: The Spatial Knowledge of Children and Young Adults (and Its Application) in Planning Contexts" (A02) of the Collaborative Research Center "Refiguration of Spaces" (CRC 1265), funded by the German Research Foundation. In her research, she focuses on (participatory) urban design and Baukultur, with a special interest in multifunctional infrastructure development, cities as educational settings, children, and youth.

Published
2021-09-29
How to Cite
Baur, N., Castillo Ulloa, I., Mennell, S., & Million, A. (2021). The Refiguration of Spaces and the Refiguration of Epistemic Cultures: The Changing Balance of Involvement and Engagement in Fundamental and Applied Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-22.3.3810
Section
The Refiguration of Spaces and Cross-Cultural Comparison II