Transdisciplinarity: Trying to Cross Boundaries

Helene Fine


This paper explores the concept of transdisciplinarity, seeing it more as a useful framework than as a distinctly different research approach. As such it can help professionals from a full range of fields and people from all walks of life work together across the boundaries that normally separate them. The boundaries between the sciences and other fields are of the most concern. Because off this, transdisciplinarity is often equated to Mode 2 Science; i.e., science that engages with humans to solve problems together out in the world. A major concern here is with the strength of prevailing beliefs about the value of expertise and the importance of the specialized division of labor. These are viewed as important tools in the struggle to control one's own work. Of equal concern is the opposite danger that the topic will reify and become just one more academic discipline. Personal examples as well as an analysis of the literature on industrial sociology, the sociology of occupations and professions as well as that on transdisciplinarity itself are presented in this exploration. 

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