Most of urban social science is values. But, when decisions no longer solely remain the remit of exceptionally upheld scientific and rational derivatives, one of the questions that arises is: who is making the value judgments? Truth is no ones property and no one has the grasp over absolute reality; it eludes theorists who take positions in terms of its existence and ultimate attainability—a source of much contention, that years later students of social science continue to debate over and spend time discussing. To be clear, neither is this an argument against the positions taken by social scientists with respect to reality viz., objectivist, constructionist, subjectivist, nor is it meant to disparage the worth of pertinent discussions which expand and hone students’ research abilities, while holding them firmly to the ground; humble, in face of certain uncertainty.
What this argument is against, is the lack of agency one gets assigned for having taken a position with respect to reality, and then a stand to articulate it in no uncertain terms. The problem questions in social science cannot be pigeonholed, not in terms of their scope nor in relation to their scale; the sole reason for defining scope and scale is for manageability and retaining focus. While everyone has nationalist and patriotic affiliations, acknowledgement of the globalized interconnected world we live in shouldn’t escape us. But little did I know that it does—by a huge degree. With it, escapes the acknowledgement of the root causes of individual and collective agonies of the “other“—one who doesn’t belong here and yet, is an observer of systemic and structural subversion that implicates all lives.
Why do we have to submit our wills to creators of institutional structures that we have no option or opportunity of escaping? What makes us believe in the power of incrementalism without having experienced leapfrogging? Why does our optimism and belief in inter-system change blind us to the pessimism and distrust of those who may be less privileged?
If calling out progenitors of global turmoil and terror requires a national or patriotic affiliation, then there exists no recourse to those who crumble under its injustice. If belonging to a piece of land confers the ability to stand up against the excesses committed on it, and from it, then perspectives of those alien to the land are of no consequence to their own subjugated existence. If being distrustful of apparent incremental systemic changes occurring from within existing political and institutional structures requires justification through patronage, then there exists none, for anyone, not even for those who think they possess it.