Social sciences as an independent discipline started to evolve in Albania only in the early 90s, after the end of the communist regime. Since that time the national social science system has gone through several phases of restructuring. Currently, social sciences are taught at eight public and nine non-public universities.
Research in social sciences in Albania is relatively new, but continuously evolving. As a result, there is a relatively high number of young scientists actively involved in research activities, many of whom have studied abroad. The main institutional players at present are about 10 public and non-public universities that have PhD programmes related to social sciences, and local think tanks.
State funding for social science research is virtually non-existent. Researchers depend on funds coming mainly from international sources, either from dedicated research funds or from development agencies. A national research agenda developed through a consultative process does not exist, and ongoing SSR research is highly fragmented and lacks relevance.
The Albanian society is currently going through very significant reform processes. This brings huge challenges in many fields such as economics, education, social welfare systems, etc. Social science research could contribute much needed evidence into policy decision making. However, at present, its contribution is very limited.
The constraints responsible for the current situation are numerous and complex. Some of the major ones include:
- The SSR community is small in numbers, not organised, not properly structured in well-established, well-funded institutions;
- Existing framework conditions do not encourage social scientists to engage in research, nor do they support quality and relevance;
- Trust in social science research and its relevance in Albania is low;
- Systems and mechanisms for collaboration between social science research and reform processes have not been developed.
On the other hand, there are numerous opportunities, that will support an increased contribution and relevance of social sciences:
- The process of EU accession requires regular and structured use of data and evidence for policy making;
- The Ministry of Education and Sports has initiated a major reform process through the new Law on Higher Education and accompanying bylaws;
- Numerous actors within the government system recognise the need for more scientific evidence in policy development and the need for inputs from social science research;
- Groups in the social science research community are keen and interested to drive change.