Different thinkers have come up with different characteristics which can help define something as being interdisciplinary by nature. Whenever there is a dialogue between different disciplines, it is enough to say that the dialoguing process is of interdisciplinary nature. This is, however, viewed as very general by nature. An interdisciplinary process can go beyond the general view and assume an integrationist nature. Apart from generating a dialogue between various disciplines, a connection can be established between different types of disciplines so as to come up with an interdisciplinary process.
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Interdisciplinary studies are very useful in the fragmented world of knowledge. The importance of interdisciplinary studies is self-evident in several applications. Ranging from problem solving to addressing of complex topics which can’t be solved in singularity, interdisciplinary processes help to come up with answers to the most burning issues in life. Interdisciplinary studies identify conflicts in different areas. After identifying conflicts, the interdisciplinary study critically looks at each assumption held by different disciplines, looks at the common points of convergence, evaluates the terminology used for each problem and comes up with a new common understanding. The common understanding can be established in form of a model. This then brings out solutions to the problems in a very comprehensive manner. There are various issues which make the interdisciplinary process to have limits in application. The inter-disciplinarians are plagued with bipartisanism because they have their own ideology and beliefs. When views of different thinkers are diametrically opposed, integration becomes a problem. It is difficult to create a common ground for all the disciplines when even creating a common ground within one discipline is a problem. There are also different standards of knowledge as well as different standards of evaluation between the liberal arts of humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The difference in standards poses a challenge to the whole process of creating harmony between them.
The three definitions given by the three authors about family can fall under the interdisciplinary processes as defined by William Newell. The definition given by the US Census Bureau is of anthropological nature. The discipline that the US Census Bureau uses to define family is the same used by George Murdoch. Monica McGoldrick, however, from a family therapist’s point of view defines family by use of the discipline of psychology. Alongside with the psychological point of view, the family therapist appeals to some anthropology when she insists on the importance of looking at generations in a family.
The definition of family by the U.S Census Bureau, George Murdoch, the anthropologist, and Monica McGoldrick, the family therapist, helps a reader to understand the reasons why it is not possible for one discipline to give it a comprehensive meaning. Much as three definitions when put together can bring out the clear meaning of a family; yet they cannot, on their own standing, completely define the institution. The differences brought out in the definitions can attest to this fact.
First, the family defined by the US Census Bureau and Monica McGoldrick does not mention the issue of sexual relationship in what constitutes a family. The only definition which incorporates socially approved sexual relationships between two partners is that one done by the anthropologist, George Murdoch. According to the definition given by the US Census Bureau, for a family institution to be deemed as so, the people who are related must be staying in the same household. This view is also shared by George Murdoch, the anthropologist. This sharply contrasts with the thoughts of the family therapist, Monica McGoldrick, who insists on the emotional connection between up to four generations. The kind of connection talked about by the family therapist is an emotional one, whereas the one talked of by the US Census Bureau is physical. In a difference of opinion in as what constitutes a family, George Murdoch, the anthropologist, adds in the twist of economic cooperation and giving births.
Even though the three thinkers have differences in the way they look at and define the family variables, there are common meeting grounds where they all agree to what constitutes a family. The most noticeable similarity in all the definitions is that for an institution to be termed as a family there must be two or more people. The people should be connected in one way or another. As well as the connections, the opinion given by the three experts show that in a family the issue of procreation cannot be gainsaid. The procreation is done either through sexual relationships or through adoption.
From the differences and the common grounds deciphered from the thoughts of the three authors, a more comprehensive definition with an interdisciplinary approach can be coined. A family can be defined as a system of relationship between two or more people, related genetically or not, which coexist through mutual benefits of social and economic cooperation. This coexistence can either be enforceable by law or by mutual understanding.
The important parts of definition can be put together to form a characteristic which explains a family. The involvement of two or more people, a group and a social system are all in agreement. The existence of common interest has been discussed by the three thinkers. This cannot again be left out when family is being discussed. However, when coming up with family definitions, the economic cooperation cannot cut across the board. The involvement of sexual relationships in definition of a family does not again hold for all cases. This is an issue that can be contested, especially in situations where we have single parents or in situations where a single parent has adopted a child.
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