Why to promote value-based Research in Social Sciences

There has already been a good standard of Social science research in India. However, the advanced research can be made more interesting if we see more of value-based research with an inter-disciplinary perspective. Some nuances of this process are sought to be discussed in this article.


Anyone who reads a fabulous journal like the Economic&Political Weekly will be stunned by the high quality of research that throws a huge amount of insight into contemporary social topics. The intellectual discussions based on this journal in many academic settings have always enriched research-based conceptual understanding at various levels.

Be that as it may, value-based research can be encouraged if:
  1. Arts can be combined with social science research
  2. Meaningful research is encouraged on sensitive topics
  3. Research on Social Change is encouraged
  4. Information Technology can play a more proactive role and
  5. The value-based research is also focused on outcomes

Arts can be combined with social science research

Economics, for example, is considered to be an "arts" subject. However, sociology is a purely social science discipline. There is so much to learn from micro research that combines both Arts and Science.

We really do not have field studies that have reported on social phenomena in a big way. For example, there has been massive empowerment of the backward, the most backward, and the scheduled castes, and the scheduled tribes in the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Yet, we do not have accurate statistics on the number of students from these communities who have become doctors, engineers, technocrats, and so on. The private IT sector is not mandated to provide any such data to the State Government. Some colleges that have very good Alumni relationships, might be able to give away such data. However, for a durable social change that has already occurred, or is likely to occur, we do not have sociological interpretations of such data or we just do not have adequate data at all.

When the New Education Policy is rolled out, we need to understand the wider implications of such research and attempt to make a dent in such areas. Economics is a very wide and comprehensive field of specialization. It depends on too many variables and nothing is possible without State support. For, we just cannot afford to have only one major caste or community cornering away all the economic benefits. The Reservation Policy may have to continue in its present avatar for at least one more century, before some changes can be thought about.

Meaningful research is encouraged on sensitive topics

A latest and most horrible instance of untouchability and social discrimination has been reported in a remote village in the Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu.

The District Collector intervened immediately. To her shock, it was revealed that human excreta had been mixed with the drinking water in the overhead tank itself. It was immediately cleaned and those who had done this mischief have been arrested. Furthermore, they were denied entry to the temple by the so-called upper castes. This has now been removed and the discriminated communities now have access to the temples.

This is not an isolated incident. Social science researchers should be despatched by at least two State Universities to study all dimensions of caste discrimination not only in that village but in surrounding villages as well. Police protection should also be provided. In this fashion, the actual ground realities will be known to the State Government. We also hear of such stories from other parts of India as well. We need far tighter laws to undo all the damage that is being done. However, no law can replace action-oriented research that covers a vast population on such sensitive topics.

Research on Social Change is encouraged

Migration of poor, and illiterate Hindi-speaking labor to the more advanced States of South India is a big social change. The negative influence of mass media through television serials is a social change. The permissiveness of the youth in urban India is a big social change.

Socio-economic research on such major social changes, coupled with the role of different State Governments, is a key point that needs to be addressed. For example, can the State of Bihar, credit a small amount of Rs200 to the dependents of the migrants in Kerala, to compensate for the physical loss of the breadwinner and the inability of the State to even provide unorganized sector employment in Kerala or other States? What policy changes are required? These are serious public policy issues. These issues require massive research at the ground level.

Information Technology can play a more proactive role

Today, we have You Yube videos on preparing a single recipe in so many languages. However, we do not have YouTube videos that talk about such social changes. The few that are available, are totally inadequate. Hence, we need Information Technology to enter the social science research arena in a big way. The State Universities can take fresh insights from the New Education Policy and enable even school students, say, Sociology, to learn about the implications of some social changes that they see all around them, through the internet and You Tubes and other vehicles of information.

The value-based research is also focused on outcomes

This has already been discussed above. No research, particularly in social science is relevant if the data on hand does not lead to fresh insights and hence, fresh solutions. For example, expenditure on social health indicators in Gujarat State is far below the national average and leaves a lot to be desired.

We need research that will focus on outcomes, as much as the academic rigor that goes along with the research. After all, everything is related to society, and if the theory is advanced to justify development projects. Massive concessions given to the rich will only result in underemployment, as the rich corporates find out ways to reduce employment, even when the going is good. Hence, the ripple effect on the economy of the State is not good at all. This can only make the rich richer and the poor, very poor. Hence, we always see glossy development, complete with shopping malls in the cities, but the semi-urban areas do not have the corresponding social or economic development, leading to more inequalities.

Hence, social science research should concentrate on the big data available and be in a position to influence the outcomes for social good.


We need to have social science research focusing on social change and outcomes. We can make that very much socially relevant through social science research that is basically interdisciplinary in nature and take the initiatives forward. State Universities can play a big role in this regard.


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