The need for a multidisciplinary perspective in policy debates

I read this piece titled “The Materialist Fallacy” by David Brooks today in the NYT.  David worries about the ways in which mainstream policy debates on social disruption in America have excluded a multidisciplinary perspective. As he puts it:

The recent research details how disruption breeds disruption…thousands of studies on attachment theory…show that children who can’t form secure attachments by 18 months face a much worse set of chances for the rest of their lives because they find it harder to build stable relationships.

It includes the diverse work on self-control…which shows, among other things, that people raised in disrupted circumstances find it harder to control their impulses throughout their lives…that different social classes have radically different child-rearing techniques, producing different outcomes.

Over the past two weeks, Charles Murray’s book, “Coming Apart,” has restarted the social disruption debate. But, judging by the firestorm, you would have no idea that the sociological and psychological research of the past 25 years even existed.

He then points towards exclusion of several important perspectives from policy debates with negative consequences for the policy. As he puts it, “amputation of sociologic, psychological and cognitive considerations makes good policy impossible.”
On second thoughts, that’s quite a claim.  Reminds me of the old Indian parable of blind men and the elephant.

About Irfan

I am an independent researcher and blogger interested in everything under the sun, but more so in the philosophy and history of education and education reform generally, and specifically in the so-called post colonial contexts

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