Bilingualism: Cognitive and Social Aspects
City University of New York, Graduate Center
It is, perhaps, every social scientist's dream to do research of such vital importance that it can show up in an enlightened social policy. Indeed, the hope is that information found out in the laboratory (either nature's or the university's) will prove to be of direct relevance to the various social ills and social problems that surround us. By doing more advanced and sophisticated research we hope to replace benighted policies with enlightened ones. We would like to believe that we are able to build a society based on refined knowledge.
Perhaps this dream is destined to remain a dream. We may have to come to understand that it is entirely possible that research design and experimental thinking are not well adapted to the realities of social action. Nor may the world of social realities be amenable to being researched in the way we might wish it to be.
The difficulties of doing socially relevant research derive directly from the fact of its social relevance. Social facts do not operate like variables in research designs. While the condition for a research design is that a variable is isolatable for study, it is most often the case that the social world offers us "bundles" of factors that are intertwined.
In the following I identify some of the problems involved in the extension of standard research methods, particularly as they bear on issues of bilingualism.
Considered from a theoretical and experimental (research design) point of view it seems quite reasonable that the basic arguments adduced by Palij and Homel