24. Social sciences and ethnographic disciplines applied to the territories

Francesca Grisot (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) Contact Person: francesca.grisot@unive.it
Ivan Severi (President of ANPIA – Associazione Nazionale Professionale Italiana di Antropologia) ivan.severi@email.com 

The session will illustrate the potential and discuss the methodological (Ladner 2016) and ethical (Low, Engel Merry 2010) issues that arise when social scientists are involved (or should be) in local policies planning (Wedel et al. 2005). Public rhetoric is very much about participatory planning, sustainability, digital transition, equity and inclusion. These keywords are associated with the most recent public funding policies, as the flow of money and interest in the private sector is moving towards DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion), sustainability, social impact and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance as three central factors in measuring the sustainability of an investment). In designing and redesigning their processes and services, public and private actors turn to professionals and consultants from different fields (Cefkin 2010). Social sciences and humanities professionals, who could also make a fundamental contribution, rarely appear in public tenders or job advertisements. They are often hired or consulted but not adequately framed for their qualification (Severi 2022). By providing specific and in-depth case studies they could represent an excellent means of developing strategies on global issues such as climate change, migration, digital transition, education, protection of cultural and environmental heritage, as well as social issues as addictions and disabilities. Ethnographic methods focus on specific contexts, providing a holistic, rich and multifaceted account, a prerequisite for the development of project design and impact assessments (van Willigen et al. 2019). Papers should address the opportunities for applied disciplines, as well as the methodological and ethical dynamics resulting from the intertwining of research and action-research in their fieldwork context (Nolan 2013, 2017). Reflections on critical and proactive attitude in evaluating the limits and potentials of the public function of the human and social sciences, are welcome (Rylko-Bauer et al. 2006). We are interested in proposal based on qualitative research provided by all human and social sciences (as anthropology, sociology, linguistics and comparative cultural studies,  geography, history, pedagogy, psychology, philosophy, demography, statistics, law) or other  experimental disciplines (as service design, product design, communication design, agronomy,  engineering, architecture and city planning) as well as documents based on research carried out in professional contexts (for example in refugee assistance, social work, heritage) (Baba, Hill 2006, Kedia 2008; cfr. Briller, Goldmacher 2009,). 

To attract presentations from the above-mentioned fields, we will use the well-established relationships based on ANPIA (Associazione Nazionale Professionale Italiana di Antropologia).

Open Questions 
What are the applied contexts in which your research and ethnographies could bring added value? What are the fundamental methodological and ethical questions to ask? How has your professional figure been recognized or not recognized in the contexts in which you have carried out research or worked? What are the strategies adopted or adoptable to enhance the role of social scientists in applied contexts, in the public and private sectors? How can the academy direct and train professionals capable of responding to the needs of the contemporary? What are the institutional issues to address in order to qualify the role of human and social scientists? Which are the contractual frameworks and which kind of remuneration can be imagined for professionals, and how can they be improved? Is there an unexpressed potential in participatory planning for the development of the local policies and what are the criticalities? Which are the connections with action research and with forms of activism and militant ethnography? How ethnographic approach deals with tools and methodologies specific of other disciplines? 

Practitioners, methodological positioning, multidisciplinary approach.

Baba, M. L., & Hill, C. E. (2006). What’s in the Name “Applied Anthropology”?: An Encounter with Global Practice. NAPA Bulletin, 25 (1): 176-207.

Briller S. H., Goldmacher A. (2009). Designing An Anthropology Career. Professional Development Exercises. Altamira.

Cefkin, M. (2010). Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter Reflections on Research in and of Corporations. Berghahn.

Kedia, S. (2008). Recent Changes and Trends in the Practice of Applied Anthropology. NAPA Bulletin, 29 (1): 14-28.

Ladner, S. (2016). Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector. Routledge.

Low, S. M., & Merry, S. E. (2010). Engaged Anthropology: Diversity and Dilemmas: An Introduction to Supplement 2. Current anthropology, 51(S2): S203-S226.

Nolan, R. W. (2013). Nolan, R. (Ed.). (2013). A Handbook of Practicing Anthropology. John Wiley & Sons.

Nolan, R. W. (2017). Using Anthropology in the World A Guide to Becoming an Anthropologist Practitioner. Routledge.

Rylko‐Bauer, B., Singer, M., & Willigen, J. V. (2006). Reclaiming Applied Anthropology: Its Past, Present, and Future. American Anthropologist, 108 (1): 178-190.

Severi, I. (2022). Fuori dalla città incantata in Castaldo, M. e Segneri M. C. (a cura di), Antropologhe in cors(i)a. La professione dell’antropologo medico nella sanità pubblica italiana. Licosia: 13-22.

Van Willigen, J., Rylko-Bauer, B., McElroy, A. (Ed.). (2019). Making Our Research Useful: Case Studies in the Utilization of Anthropological Knowledge. Routledge.Wedel, J. R., Shore, C., Feldman, G., & Lathrop, S. (2005). Toward an Anthropology of Public Policy. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 600 (1): 30-51.

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