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Cross-cutting Research Dimension IV: Theory and Methodology

In addition to the three thematic research dimensions, a fourth research dimension will concentrate on cross-cutting theoretical and methodological questions. The main objectives of the cross-cutting research dimension are the critical examination of:

  • Macro-sociological and historico-comparative approaches to social inequalities. Especially these approaches that explicitly deal with the entangled character of social transformation processes in different world regions, and that highlight both connections and disconnections, junctures and disjunctures in global configurations of social inequalities have to be critically re-read . Additionally, the focus will be on creatively re-examining works from area and regional studies regarding their potential contribution to research on global interdependencies.
  • Current debates on social inequalities, particularly of these approaches dealing with the transnationalization of social inequalities, with the aim of extrapolating their concepts of boundary making, social, political, and symbolic inclusion/exclusion, and social transformation.
  • Current debates on social inequalities in Latin America by elaborating the ways on how they integrate the transnational dimension of social inequality. The focus will be on the connections that are drawn between transformation processes on a macro-economic, macro-political, and macro-societal level on the one hand, and the emergence of transnational constellations on the other. 

Further objectives of the fourth research dimension are:

  • The elaboration of a theoretical and methodological framework that is able to adequately grasp both the global and the historical dimensions of social inequalities in Latin America. A central question that needs to be addressed is how Latin America’s particular position within global socio-economic and political contexts relate to the persistence and even to the growth of extreme forms of social inequalities.
  • A critical reflection on the basic categories of sociological thought and their methodological implications. The notion of society as used for a long time, has been related intimately to the idea of the unity of a territorially bounded nation state, a population living within this territory, and their distinctive and shared cultural identity and expressions. This "container concept" of society has been challenged by the changes that globalization has brought about for the constitution of social formations and processes of identity construction. But also other concepts such as upward and downward social mobility as well as social inclusion and exclusion turned out to be based on problematic assumptions. They have mainly focused on formal sector employment, private property, and individual rights, thus having a specific gender, class, and ethnic bias. desiguALdades.net takes up the challenge of deconstructing the methodological nationalisms and the different biases inherent in these concepts for adequately describing and analyzing transnational, transregional, and multidimensional interdependencies of social inequality in Latin America.


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