Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
PITFALLS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH*

William Caudill and Bertram H. Roberts

IT IS our purpose here to point up some of the organizational problems of collaboration which have not been as explicitly set forth as they might in previous discussions of methodology in interdisciplinary work. We feel this is useful because we believe that in the future many of the major advances in knowledge will be made by intellectually and emotionally congenial people from several disciplines who, working together, will cross ordinary academic boundaries in their search for insight. Each of the authors had worked on a number of interdisciplinary projects before collaborating, as anthropologist and psychiatrist, on several current investigations1 The thoughts presented here have been stimulated by discussions arising out of this work.

In recent years, social and psychological scientists have come to recognize that the phenomena they observe cannot be encompassed by narrow boundaries of any particular discipline. This recognition underlies the much reiterated theoretical viewpoint that the individual and the group do not represent a dichotomy but, rather, a single field of interaction. The acceptance of this viewpoint has led to an enthusiastic trend toward "in-

____________________
*
Human Organization, Vol. 10, No. 4 ( 1951), pp. 12-15.
1
From 1946 to 1951, Mr. Caudill collaborated with a group of psychoanalysts, clinical psychologists, social workers, and sociologists on the acculturation and personality adjustment of the Japanese-Americans in Chicago. During the same period, Dr. Roberts worked with social scientists on problems related to a logical analysis of Neo-Freudianism, the application of psychodynamic principles to the study of American Negroes in Harlem, and the culture-personality systems of the Thai. At the time of writing ( 1951), the authors were engaged in work on the adaptation of traditional psychotherapeutic techniques to the needs of working-class patients with ethnic backgrounds, the attitudes toward mental illness and psychiatry held by patients of different class levels who are in therapy, and the study of social interaction among in-patients within the social structure of a private mental hospital. They were also participating, with other workers, in a larger study of mental illness relative to class position.

-11-

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