Methods in the Human and Social Sciences – University of Copenhagen

Methods in the Human and Social Sciences

The research priority area Methods in the Human and Social Sciences is located at Dept. of Media, Cognition and Communication, and aims at developing research into the emerging agenda on methods from the perspective of philosophy of science. 

During the past two decades, the subject area of the Humanities has undergone a substantial expansion and correction, a process that has in part been driven by the uptake of methods originating within the social sciences. This includes qualitative methods such as participant observation and interviews, and quantitative methods such as survey based research. At the same time, theorists and researchers in the social sciences have adopted core methodological elements from the humanities, such as concepts from linguistics in the form of discourse analysis. This bilateral trade in methods has meant that a broad range of methods are used across a wide variety of disciplines and in relation to a very diverse set of theories and empirical areas of investigation.

The migration of methods between scientific disciplines, and the utilization of methods under diverse theoretical frameworks contribute to reinvigorating some of the basic questions of method and epistemology: To what extent do the methods generate valid data? In what sense(s) are methods objective or compatible with the demand that science should be objective? On what grounds is it possible – and desirable – to divide methods into qualitative and quantitative ones? What ethical issues are raised by their application? For example, what are the challenges raised by these methods with respect to the requirement to respect the privacy of those being studied? What are the roles of values in their application? How do the data serve as basis for explanations, interpretations, etc.?

The group arranges seminars with international guests as well as internal seminars for group members. Internal meetings are open to interested researchers also from outside of Dept. of Media, Cognition and Communication.