Sociologists and anthropologists have been urged to use research and tools to change the current social problems facing society.
Professor Clara Korkor Fayorsey, the Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Central University, said academia were trained to use research to solve social problems but unfortunately “we conduct research and allow it to gather dust on our shelves.”
At the Fourth Annual Conference of the Ghana Sociological and Anthropological Association ongoing in Accra, she said Sociology and Anthropology examined the concepts and paradigm shifts of development and served as voices of the voiceless.
The two-day conference is on the theme: “Re-positioning Sociology/Anthropology for National Development,” that brought together experts in those fields from the University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and some students.
Prof. Fayorsey, who was the Guest Speaker for the opening ceremony, said over the years, successive governments came with brilliant social interventions to alleviate the suffering of the people and that the current Free Senior High School Policy was an example.
However, she said it was about time sociologists and anthropologists analysed the issues and come up with recommendations to ensure the ordinary person derived the maximum benefit from its implementation.
“You must become academic advocates for the rights and dignity of human beings and not mere spectators”.
She, therefore, urged the scholars to push forward an agenda that puts individuals, families and societies at the centre of development.
“I also want to encourage the conference to reposition Sociology and Anthropology at the centre of sustainable National Development for the benefit of all.”
Professor Charity S. Akotia, Dean, School of Social Sciences, said the conference would provide the opportunity for researchers to share findings in their areas of expertise with the scientific community and with other scholars.
She said social scientists in general produce a lot of research that impacted on society and influenced policy formulation and expressed the belief that the conference would interrogate theories, policies and practices whose relevance might be in doubt.
“It also gives the opportunity to showcase empirical findings that will enhance our understanding of social issues. Hopefully the findings of the various researches that will be presented at this conference and the follow up discourse will find expression in policy formulation.
Prof. Akotia said the theme was timely because “of late everybody is talking about national development. So we will like to see the roles sociologists can also play, what they can offer in terms of research, and what their research do to prepare the country to overcome its developmental challenges”.
Professor Kojo Senah, a Retired Associate Professor, who chaired the function, said the conference would discuss very serious issues relating to national development.
“If we are able to successfully go through the conference and in the end we are able to come out with the policies that will enhance national development, we would have contributed our quota to our dear nation,” he said.
“People ask what sociologists are doing about what is going on in the country. So the challenge is now ours to show that we can also do something.”
He said essentially their job was to contribute to society to ensure law and order, adding that “without law and order none of us will be here today. We need to be sure that society runs in orderliness and it is our job to contribute to that”.
Prof Senah said there were lots of social issues that needed to be talked about like child abuse, gender inequality, poor access to health and toilet facilities and sanitation adding that systems must work to help address those challenges.