Categories of ACSA Conference Papers:

A Critical Evaluation of Architectural Research in Light of Social Science Methodological Frameworks



This paper critically assesses current architectural research, as represented in a sampling of papers presented at ACSA conferences, through the lens of research typologies related to people-place interactions taken from neighboring fields in the social sciences. Specifically, 253 papers from four ACSA conferences were assessed for methodological approaches to their objects of inquiry. This resulted in a tabulation of all the papers into nine methodological categories, ranging from interpretive approaches to causal-experimental approaches to design projects. These nine categories are critically evaluated in light of extant people-place research frameworks from the social science literature. The paper concludes by suggesting that established social science frameworks can help clarify the architectural research realm, particularly in the “interpretive” range, and that “design” offers a unique venue within which sociological approaches such as critical theory and/or grounded theory can find expression.