Cross-Disciplinary Theory in Construction of a World-Historical Archive


  • Patrick Manning University of Pittsburgh
  • Sanjana Ravi University of Pittsburgh



Interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration have proven to be desirable yet difficult goals to achieve in social science research. The nuanced differences among the domains, frameworks, assumptions, and methods of the various fields of study that comprise such research often hinder attempts to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue that is both meaningful and productive. We show that demography, economics, political science, and sociology are a few of the fields at the vanguard of the interdisciplinary frontier that emerged following the Second World War. In light of the challenges that these fields (along with the natural sciences) face in initiating and sustaining interdisciplinary dialogue, we aim to accomplish several tasks. First, we seek to describe the theoretical and epistemological linkages among the cores of these four social-science disciplines. Second, we explore systems theory as a potential foundation for interdisciplinary unity. Third, we extrapolate the implications of the systems approach to encompass the study of human populations from multiple disciplinary perspectives. In this vein, we also seek to characterize key features of human populations, parse their functions in various disciplinary contexts, and prospectively identify challenges in data interpretation and analysis that will likely emerge in practice. The ultimate goals of this study are to delineate a set of methodological standards with which to guide interdisciplinary inquiry in the social and natural sciences, and consider how we might implement these standards in the construction of a world-historical data archive.







Articles: Methodology