Editorial Introduction & Mission Statement
The social sciences have a long tradition of being a scattered set of disciplines that often share surprisingly little information. Yet, the meta-term "Social Science" need not be so diverse. We hope that through the Journal of Integrated Social Sciences (JISS), a platform is created that will facilitate dialogue among scholars from different social science disciplines. We hereby invite the social sciences community to submit their best works, including empirical or theoretical scholarship.
A major focus point of JISS centers on the concept of "transformations". We do not see the world as a static, unmoving entity. Rather, social nature is developmental and thus transformative in its characteristics. Hence, we especially encourage authors with a key interest in examining how phenomena transform to submit their research. We are especially interested in those works that share a wide perspective for analysis and synthesis — i.e., on what the nature of the "whole" is. This approach stands in opposition to elementaristic observations that focus on parts, which without their relation to the whole phenomena become artificial and meaningless. We believe that works aimed at capturing the dynamics, fluidity, and synthesis of individual and social phenomena are all too often underrepresented in scholarly journals.
If construction of general knowledge is the focus of methodology (as in any science), then methodology cannot be seen as a "toolbox" of different ready-made methods. Rather, it needs to be viewed as a process of human mental construction of generalizations. It entails mutually linked components of general assumptions about the world at large (axioms), specific constructed theories of the given target area, understanding of pertinent phenomena, and — finally — ways of constructing specific methods to transform some aspects of the phenomena into purposefully derived data. Data are always constructed, or — better — derived from phenomena, on the basis of the investigator's reasoning.
As such, a key requirement for any author wishing to publish his or her work (be it empirically grounded, or purely theoretically oriented) needs to explicitly reflect upon the necessary underlying assumptions (axioms) and (if applicable) on how exactly a methodology was derived to study a given phenomena. We concur with Valsiner and do not see methodology as a collection of ready-made methods (a ready "tool-box") that can be applied to any research question a social scientist may be interested in. We do not give priority to one approach investigating phenomena. Instead, we wish to further the development of unique and well-thought-out methodologies that best fit the task for studying a given observable "fact"; not because of their previously established credo or dogma, but rather for their present suitability in being the best possible approach. Our hope is that through the explicit reflection upon one's applied methodology, other scholars — both young and old — will profit.
The present journal attempts to provide a platform that fills the void of a unified approach and instead provides an affordable outlet for students and professionals alike. We are launching our peer-reviewed journal with several disciplines in mind that are central to the social sciences: Psychology, Sociology, Political Sciences, and Gender Studies. Further disciplines may be added as the journal matures.
We believe that students are also capable of serious reflection and capable of providing new insights that can benefit the scholarly community. Thus, we especially encourage undergraduate (and graduate) students to submit, together with a faculty sponsor, their best work to be reviewed by our distinguished editorial board members.
Rainer Diriwächter, Ph.D.