Contextualizing Social Science in Nepal


  • Dev Raj Dahal Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office



social movement, Nepal


Social science informs about the ideals and trains experts to deal with the complex social realities. It has a public purpose rooted in what we call dharma (professional and institutional responsibility) as opposed to the arrogance of reason, self-will and self-rationalization intrinsic to contemporary rational choice and modernity. Learning has a synergy - establishing connection between the world of social science theories and the drama of social life. A lack of mutual learning between Nepal's traditional faith intellectuals and modern reason-based social scientists has created a big hiatus and contradiction. The academic life of social scientists in Nepal is completely outside of spiritual, moral and ethical influence experienced by ordinary public. The spiritual blindness of modern social scientists has thus opened multiple gaps between their worldview and those of the citizens on various frontiers--theoretical knowledge and practical experience, technical understanding and composite knowledge and secularity of social science and the vitality of the Hindu-Buddhist scriptures in the popular mind, culture, behavior and practices. This has reinforced a division between the system of knowledge of social scientists and the life-world of people. The proponents of new social movements in Nepal, such as women, Dalits, Janajatis, Madhesis, youths and marginalized population are seeking a structural shift in reason-based knowledge to both reason and feeling in social science knowledge discovery. This movement can open the "captive mind" to social learning of contextual knowledge, conduct research with the citizens, provide inputs to the policy makers and reverse their linear, structure-bound, rationalist and disciplinary thinking into the one that represents what the Nepal mandala, the Nepali space, is really like and how to improve it for the better. The renewal and indigenization of qualitative social science research is important to overcome the spirited challenges posed by social forces in Nepal and contribute to the application of scientific reasoning in public policy and social change.

Key Words: social movement, Nepal

DOI = 10.3126/dsaj.v2i0.1356

Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology Vol.2 pp.1-30


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Author Biography

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office

Dahal, Dev Raj is Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office. Formerly he was associate professor of political science at Tribhuvan University. He is the author of Decentralization and Development: An Exercise Towards the Devolution of Power in Nepal (Kathmandu: NEFAS, 1994); Challenges to Good Governance: Decentralization in Nepal (Kathmandu: GDS, 1996); State, Society and Development Nepal (Kathmandu: IIDS, 1998); Civil Society in Nepal: Opening the Ground for Questions (Kathmandu: CDG, 2001); Berghof Foundation for Peace Support Nepal: Supporting Peace Process Through a Berlin, 2005 Systemic Approach United Nations Development Program, Civil Society Groups in Nepal: Their Roles in Conflict and Peacebuilding, (UNDP), April 20, 2006.


How to Cite

Dahal, D. R. (2008). Contextualizing Social Science in Nepal. Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 2, 1–30.