The Art of Writing Social Sciences: Disrupting the Current Politics of Style
Political Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS)
9 - 38 p.
social sciences, politics of style, collective, reflexivity, writing, transdisciplinarity
Through a critical engagement with substantive and stylistic guidelines dictated by dominant journals in the social sciences, this article enquires on what it means to write like a social scientist in the twenty-first century. Academic production and diffusion now regularly take place beyond and across national borders, with English often standing in as the lingua franca of these global exchanges. Though just one effect of this restructuration, academic journals have become more transnational in scope with regards to the authors whose work they publish and the audiences whose readership they seek to attract. However, while one could expect the “globalization” of the social sciences to lead to the transnational circulation of national disciplinary traditions and perhaps multiple manifestations of cultural hybridization, we are instead witnessing the imposition of a strangely singular and harmonized mode of doing the social sciences. Paradoxically, standards of how long a scientific article should be or how one should fashion an argument are so familiar and intimately known, yet curiously opaque and of unknown origins. In interrogating the historical-contextual origins of conventions that so strongly shape the world of academic publishing and, dare we say, reasoning, we raise questions about the conditions of the present and the naturalization of standards on how to write a scientific article. As a consequence of this exploration, we propose alternatives guidelines that a new journal such as ours has to present to its anticipated authors and readers.