FCT

R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Sociologia, Antropologia, Demografia e Geografia

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Estudos Territoriais [SOC-LVT-Lisboa-3124] visitada em 08/10/2007

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
CET, which is apparently the only research unit in Portugal centered on cities, appears to be focused on applied research and on support for policy and decision makers in the field of space and territorial issues. It is to be commended for its involvement with local urban authorities in analysing and selecting solutions to social-cultural problems. Over the years, they have found recognition for this mission, which accounts for their many projects, most of them initiated by institutional interlocutors.
CET has 3 research groups, which having about the same characteristics, deserve the same level of evaluation.
The group «Planning, management and territorial development» (3124–2681) is mainly concerned by (1) the current transformations of the Portuguese territory in relation with deindustrialisation, rural desertification, mobility, (2) the organisation of the network of Portuguese cities, (3) the strategic planning and (4) the planning for social intervention
The main topics of the group «Housing policy and habitat» (3124–2684) are the public policies as well as the market with its segmentations, the evolutions of the needs in relation to demographic change, social neighbourhoods, new themes like condominiums for seniors, lofts, sustainable architecture; this group has also created a housing observatory in Lisboa.
The group «Inclusion, social policy and equality of chances» (3124–2788) concentrates its research on particular groups such as the young, women, gipsies, immigrants. The researchers have established a system of monitoring and of formation programmes aimed at working with children and young people.
If CET appears to conduct an excellent action-research, it has apparently still to capitalize theoretically on its results and to save time (and money) for scientific reflection and international publication. On this subject, the panel wonders if it is a good idea that CET publishes its own journal (which has only 80 subscriptions). The main reason given was the journal enables the publishing of CET’s research results. While this might be useful for the institutions financing the researches and maybe for marketing the image of the unit, the publication requires a lot of time and energy which could be used to develop a specific scientific perspective and to stimulate theoretical and methodological exchanges. Furthermore, having one’s own journal can prevent making efforts to publish in (inter)national journals.
During the visit, the question of a merger with DINAMIA was discussed (this issue was also raised during the visit to DINAMIA). Both centres have already good relations and they regularly collaborate. The panel had the impression that the members of CET are hesitant concerning this perspective. They see the advantages of such a merger: a larger logistical capacity, a rationalisation of the resources, more opportunities for internationalisation, a reinforcement of the project-teams as well as the necessity to face up to the contraction of the market. They recognize also that such a merger could help them to go beyond some of their weaknesses in matters of organisation, of publications, of relation between research and teaching and in what concerns the rentabilisation of knowledge. But on the other hand, the panel could not help but feel certain reluctances and a tendency to slow down the process («we have 2 years to obtain the required dimension, we have to discuss, to vote,…»). CET, which is very efficient and recognised as such in applied research, probably fears the loss of its identity (specificity, patrimony, name). But the researchers should recognise the existence of external constraint and the advisability of uniting forces.
The panel recommends some such merger and in the meantime, suggests that CET develops a more general and explicit research strategy, focussing on more strictly scientific research issues. It would also encourage CET to accompany its advanced students in a more clearly structured and constant fashion, in the form, for instance, of associating with a doctoral school.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Housing policy and habitat [RG-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-3124-2684]
The main topics of the group «Housing policy and habitat» (3124–2684) are the public policies as well as the market with its segmentations, the evolutions of the needs in relation to demographic change, social neighbourhoods, new themes like condominiums for seniors, lofts, sustainable architecture,…. ; this group has also created a housing observatory in Lisboa. As the other groups of this Unit, this one conducts an excellent action research, however, it seems that it has to capitalize theoretically on its results and to save time and money for scientific reflection and international publications
Inclusion and Social policies and equality of chances [RG-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-3124-2788]
The group «Inclusion, social policy and equality of chances» (3124–2788) concentrates its research on particular groups such as the young, women, gipsies, immigrants,…The researchers have established a system of monitoring and of formation programmes aimed at working with children and young people. As the other groups of this Unit, this one conducts an excellent action research, however, it seems that it has to capitalize theoretically on its results and to save time and money for scientific reflection and international publications.
Planning, management and territorial development [RG-SOC-LVT-Lisboa-3124-2681]
The group «Planning, management and territorial development» (3124–2681) is mainly concerned by (1) the current transformations of the Portuguese territory in relation with deindustrialisation, rural desertification, mobility, (2) the organisation of the network of Portuguese cities, (3) the strategic planning and (4) the planning for social intervention. As the other groups of this Unit, this one conducts excellent action research, however, it seems that it has to capitalize theoretically on its results and to save time and money for scientific reflection and international publications.

Comentários da unidade

The Centre for Territorial Studies – CET at ISCTE is a small centre and since it was set up in 1991 it has distinguished itself in particular for the following three dimensions: the specificity of the themes studied - the territory, the habitat and citizenship -; the way in which it puts effective interdisciplinarity into practice; and the option to invest in the liaison between academia and society pursuing the principle, which we support, of the social responsibility of the social scientist.
We therefore conduct not only the more traditional academic research, but also a series of research activities which are defined in the report as “action-research”: “If CET appears to conduct an excellent action-research, it has apparently still to capitalize theoretically on its results and to save time (and money) for scientific reflection and international publication”.
Academic research and action-research are intimately linked and each strives to further knowledge about the territorial dynamics of the Portuguese society
It is our belief that an error of judgement was made on one hand when CET’s academic research was undervalued, and on the other when due consideration was not given to the heuristic, theoretical and epistemological value of the action research, not to mention the importance this plays in the “socialisation” of sociology given the diversity of social actors responsible for the production of the territory in Portugal. From our standpoint, it is impossible to consider that excellent action research is conducted whilst simultaneously devaluating the scientific reflection. The one does not exist without the other.
Moreover, the recognised excellence of the work produced, which is expressed in the importance and the responsibility of the research conducted as well as the trust placed in CET by the various entities contracting its services, can only in our opinion be explained by the theoretical and methodological capitalisation achieved.
Therefore, in our opinion, the classification awarded now to CET not only fails to express the scientific work that has in effect been conducted at this centre, but also in relation to the previous assessment it penalises the centre’s quantitative and qualitative growth.