The Role of Social Science and Critical Reflection in Shaping South Africa’s and Africa’s Future
By Joel Netshitenzhe at the National Science Forum
I wish to start off by expressing our appreciation as the Mapungubwe Institute, for the invitation to join in igniting ‘conversations about science’. Coming as it does on this the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the South African White Paper on Science and Technology, Science Forum 2016 assumes special significance.
What immediately struck one about the theme, the role of the social sciences and critical reflection in shaping South Africa’s and Africa’s future, is the singular reference to ‘future’. This underlines the obvious: the mutually beneficial or – woe betide – mutually injurious osmosis between South Africa and the continent at large. The equivalent of Brexit in relation to South Africa and the continent sounds quite vulgar, perhaps because it is inconceivable!
The theme straddles many conceptual issues; and I will not venture into expounding complex notions about gnoseology, epistemology, social science and humanities. Rather, I have chosen to reflect on a few elements of current macrosocial reality across the globe; hoping that, through these reflections, the role of social sciences will come out in even bolder relief.