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Sociology in Singapore: Global Discourse in Local Context

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This paper reviews the development trajectory of sociology as a discipline and its practice in Singapore. Viewing sociology as a global discourse, the paper argues that there have been, at least, three waves in the development of sociological practice in Singapore. These waves mark a shift in research interests that somehow parallel the changing official interest in the findings of sociological research. Such shifts in research interest and changes in curricula reflect important dynamics not only in the relationship between academic knowledge and official need for such knowledge but with time also an increasing appreciation of critical inquiry. This paper argues that there are limitations in viewing sociology simply as a "Western social science" in a "non-Western context". For the clarity of both conceptual and empirical understanding, it may be useful to rethink the relationship between sociological knowledge and power as a dynamic process with some universal features. This would entail going beyond the West versus non-West polarity and assessing the development of social science in terms of the global/local interface.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology National University of Singapore


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