Spotlight series: The Collective for Social Science Research

12th January 2015
This week we turn our attention to The Collective for Social Science Research, Pakistan, for our Spotlight series. The series profiles research organisations based in developing countries.

CSSR logo 2

The Collective for Social Science Research was formed in 2001 by a small group of social science researchers as an independent research organisation in Karachi. Its objective is to produce high quality academic research in the social sciences and to foster informed debate on social, political and economic issues and policies.

Its research focuses mainly on Pakistan but has also extended to Afghanistan.

The Collective’s areas of research interest include social policy, economics, nutrition, poverty, gender studies, health, labour, migration, and urban studies. The organisation also focuses on three main areas of innovation in the practice of applied social sciences in Pakistan: the introduction of a political economy perspective in macro- and micro-issues; the attention to informal collective action and social networks; and the combination of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

Much of the Collective’s work is commissioned by those working on social and economic programming in the country, whether they are state policy makers or donors working in the development sector. Through its research the Collective aims to add to the quality of social sector programmes and economic policy. The Collective also engages with academics in the region and globally in an effort to contribute to the on-going dialogue in the social sciences on the condition of various societies and their people.

A significant portion of the Collective’s work is primary research in communities in Pakistan that are often lacking in voice and representation. The research producedoften challenges the categories that the state uses to understand these segments of the population and works to better understand the systems that produce inequality in our society.

Reaching target audiences can be a challenge due to factors such as the capacity of policy makers to use evidence, the small size of the academic community in the country which implies that there are few opportunities to generate/engage in current debates on social policy theory and practice, and the fact that the country has high global visibility with regard to security/conflict issues at the expense of social policy issues.