This article analyses research on development (Entwicklungsforschung) as a new discipline for understanding world development as an integral process. It starts by describing the crisis of social science as the crisis of the enlightenment project and of rationality. The dialectics of enlightenment consists in a modernisation project that optimises the means of intervention in society, neglecting rational deliberation on its ends. Today, social sciences who do not subordinate itself to the cash nexus are being marginalized by liberal reforms aiming at the privatisation of knowledge. An alternative and integrated social science has to overcome disciplinary boundaries as proposed by interdisciplinary research. However, interdisciplinary research is limited too, as it is de-linked from society, citizens and political and economic conflicts. Transdisciplinary research is the form of social science that organizes the dialogue within and beyond science, thereby, fostering a democratic project of an open and dialogical society. Research on development analyses not only the periphery of the world, as done by development studies, but aims at an integral analysis linking centre and periphery. World development is seen as a contradictory unity which needs a dialectical analysis which gives due credit to the dynamics of development. Therefore, Marxism and the critique of political economy are proposed as the most consistent conceptual framework for understanding world development. Research on development has the potential to overcome the dialectics of enlightenment by uniting reason and ethics, based on dialectical approach which takes side on those at the margin o society and at the periphery of the world economy. Therefore, its realisation turns out to depend on overcoming capitalism and constructing democratic socialism.
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