The idea of social science in East Africa: an aspect of the development of higher education
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This paper tries to answer a number of basic questions about social science in East Africa: What are the distinctive characteristics of East African social science? How have these changed over time? How is social science organized and supported? Through what channels does it express itself? Who are its producers and consumers? What have been its achievements and limitations? What factors have been most responsible for conditioning the pattern of its emergence, growth and diffusion? The paper begins by looking at the history of social science in East Africa. It then summarizes some of the outstanding features of the social science community—its interests, style, organization and quality—and proceeds to a tentative assessment of the general impact of social science. This is followed by an examination of the three relationships which have been especially important in shaping the general pattern of social science activity and in accounting for interesting variations within it—those with government, the university and technical assistance agencies. Finally the analysis is used as the basis for a summary of outstanding issues and a projection of likely future trends. There is an attempt throughout to emphasize the influence of changing concepts of development upon social science activity and to draw instructive comparisons between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. While the paper is descriptive the overall purpose is less that of providing a definitive picture of social science endeavour than of understanding the social context in which i t exists and of asking which aspects have had most influence on its development.