Enabling Transdisciplinary Research on Social Cohesion in the City

The Social Polis experience

Authored by: Davide Cassinari , Frank Moulaert

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415727952
eBook ISBN: 9781315851884
Adobe ISBN: 9781317917038


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Transdisciplinary methodology in research crosses disciplinary boundaries to develop a holistic approach, often involving researchers, practitioners and other non-academics in the production of knowledge, which can actively contribute to solving societal problems (Max-Neef, 2005). This chapter discusses the transdisciplinary methodology which was applied in the European platform Social Polis, a concrete experience of cooperation between urban researchers, policymakers and civil society representatives. Social Polis is a social platform1 funded under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research created to generate a European Research Agenda on ‘Cities and Social Cohesion’. The Social Polis platform has dealt with the complex problématique of social cohesion in cities, involving over three hundred stake-holders with different backgrounds. These stakeholders were brought together in a three-year, multilayered and plural debate with researchers, civil society organizations, representatives from European Union and United Nations organizations and national and local authorities, as well as non-governmental organizations, private-for-profit organizations and community organizations of deprived citizens and migrants. These agents have been involved in combating social exclusion in different domains in cities in Europe, South and North America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Social Polis is therefore an example of a large-scale, transdisciplinary project and illustrates how such a platform can be organized and how stakeholders involvement may be coordinated. Furthermore, it provides the opportunity to discuss some typical problems that frequently arise in transdisciplinary projects, as well as some possible solutions to these.

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