Urbanization: An interdisciplinary approach to a complex phenomenon

van der Merwe I. ; Bekker S. (2003)


On account of the complexity and universal character of the urbanisation process, many academic disciplines, including Social Work, focus on this phenomenon. Accordingly, definitions tend to diverge, while the key concepts and research methodologies of the various disciplines are typically at variance with one another. Such a situation makes interdisciplinary and comparative international studies on urbanisation challenging to execute. One such comparative study has been initiated by the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Bordeaux, France, promoting both interdisciplinary as well as intercontinental co-operation. The potential success of this interdisciplinary analysis arises mainly from the openness of concepts and methodologies as well as the judicious choice of cities. In addition, the selection of central questions and of shared themes appears to be important This paper will reflect on these issues by considering aspects of a recently launched interdisciplinary and international research programme. Some perspective, however, is needed beforehand on the two relevant concepts of interdisciplinarity and urbanisation.

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