Item – Thèses Canada

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Lazenby, Jill Ann,1966-
Climates of collaboration : interdisciplinary science and social identity.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2003
Ottawa : National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada, [2004]
3 microfiches.
Includes bibliographical references.
Interdisciplinarity is required in many kinds of scientific research, particularly complex, multi-factored, policy-relevant projects. This dissertation describes how knowledge workers might facilitate interdisciplinary science through understanding both disciplines and interdisciplinary working groups as social identities. A case of research on the human dimensions of global climate change is used as an example of "new science"--science that is problem-oriented, policy-relevant, and that requires input from many different knowledge fields. Two characteristics of the case study are noted: (1) scientists are able to cross disciplinary boundaries; (2) scientists from different interdisciplinary groups can have trouble working together. After considering these characteristics using ideas about disciplinary boundaries and boundary-crossing that come from the philosophy and social studies of science, I recast both points using a social psychological theory of intergroup relations. The social identity approach shows that intergroup tensions are created by strong identifications with particular social groups. When both disciplines and interdisciplinary groups are seen as social groups, the social identity perspective provides a new explanation for (a) boundary-crossing between disciplines, and (b) barrier formation between interdisciplinary groups. Social, institutional, theoretical and cultural boundaries can become barriers when researchers feel strongly identified with a group, whether disciplinary or interdisciplinary. Highly discipline-identified researchers, I suggest, will have more difficulty crossing disciplinary boundaries to work on interdisciplinary projects. Similarly, collaborations between researchers who identify strongly with different interdisciplinary groups can be difficult, even though research in both groups is interdisciplinary. I suggest that researchers can facilitate a desired form of interdisciplinarity by creating a climate that encourages participating scientists to identify strongly as members of the same group. When this kind of group identity is more salient that competing disciplinary and interdisciplinary identities, researchers are less likely to perceive theoretical, social and cultural boundaries as barriers.