Inequalities within (social) sciences at large: Has everyone who wants to the chance to become a (social) scientist?
To approach the issue of (social) sciences on a large scale, I decided to use “The World Social Science Report: Challenging Inequalities” (2016) and a second, although somewhat older material: “The World Social Science Report: Knowledge Divides” (2010), both published by UNESCO and ISSC, whereof I picked suitable articles. The connection to “Open Science” lies in an unusual understanding of this term, as a metaphor and desideratum for the state of the science system at large. The logic behind that: Where “science” is not open (enough), it should be “opened up” to enhance individual chances for people who want to become (social) scientists, as well as for the benefit of respective societies all in all (aligned to the sustainable development goal of universal access to education until 2030, which indeed rests on the human right for education of the year 1948). Globally, there are very different conditions for the production of social science knowledge. The question of the state of social sciences is not only to be seen as an effect of inequalities; social sciences are also one of the “tools” of choice to analyze and improve local situations. Johann Mouton (2010: 67) therefore asks concerning the themes in social science research: “To what extent does science in the region (including both the social sciences and the humanities) address the most important development goals of the respective countries?” The current state of (social) sciences is not only to be understood out of local developments; international intertwinements have to be considered. Laurent Jeanpierre (2010: 118 pp.) points out the asymmetry respectively the inequalities of the (world) science system on the global scale. He notes two patterns of migrations within a highly asymmetrical global structure: On the one hand, “[social] scientists migrate from the main academic centres to the periphery in order to teach, export their skills, or do research and gather data.” On the other hand, “talented young social scientists tend to leave a peripheral position for academic centres in order to be trained or work with the most eminent scholars.” Jeanpierre (2010: 119) remarks, that “imperial and colonial political structures provided a highly asymmetrical framework for such voluntary migrations, reinforcing the scientific creativity and productivity of the centre at the expense of the periphery (Brisson, 2008). Yet these migrations are not always voluntary. They may also depend on the social and economic conditions of researchers, on the status of academic and research positions, and on political constraints on scientists’ freedom of speech.” To sum it up, till today “transnational disciplinary spaces of exchange show a highly asymmetrical structure, where Western countries, primarily the USA, generally hold a hegemonic position.”
Nigeria Primary School Enrolment by state in 2013. Source: Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics.
70 % - 80 %
60 % - 70 %
50 % - 60 %
40 % - 50 %
30 % - 40 %
20 % - 30 %
10 % - 20 %
Female literacy rate in Nigeria by state in 2013