Foreword and people

The Campaign for Social Science was set up in 2011 to inform public policy, build coalitions and engage in measured advocacy. It sprang from the Academy of Social Sciences, whose thousand Fellows are eminent academics and practitioners in business, government and civil society; 47 learned societies are also members, representing 90,000 social scientists in varied settings. In this report we showcase the economic and social dimensions of UK science today and look forward to tomorrow with recommendations for this and the next government to consider.

At the 2015 Westminster elections and through the spending review that will follow, the Campaign has a robust case to make to the Treasury, ministers, MPs and policymakers. Research, data collection and education and training in social science must be sustained. On them depend innovation, productivity growth, civic resilience and much more. Without adequate investment the UK loses.

This report summarises for a wider public what social scientists are doing in its midst. The business of social science is what people do and how they behave, as citizens, consumers, producers and holders of opinions: it’s them we seek to understand, ‘nudge’ and explain.

Large problems – call them challenges or opportunities – lie ahead. Whatever the election outcome they will go on demanding the skills and imagination of well-trained social scientists. Whether we look abroad to regions of conflict or within the UK to divergent claims on state and nationhood, whether we think about flows of capital and people between nations or new modes of exchanging data over distance: social science brings an accumulated stock of knowledge and characteristic methods of inquiry to understand and deal with our world.

It does so in collaboration. The challenges of the next decade will demand evidence and insight from social scientists working in new ways with colleagues from the natural sciences, engineering, arts and humanities. Much of Sir Mark Walport’s first annual report as Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) reflected studies on risk, uncertainty and enterprise by social scientists. It’s with confidence in the necessity of social science that the report stakes its claim on scarce resources.

We would like to thank all those who have devoted time to the project. Particularly the Working Group, who shaped its conclusions. Also the Review Group, chaired by Paul Boyle, who were enlisted to prevent us straying too far from good sense, though they are not responsible for our conclusions. We are very grateful to SAGE for publishing the report; also to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, British Sociological Association, Regional Studies Association, British Psychological Society, Nuffield Foundation and Royal Statistical Society for their support. A list of people

We are launching The Business of People in February 2015, and will use it as the basis of our advocacy on behalf of the social sciences through the general election, spending review and beyond. We also plan to take the report on a roadshow to more than 25 universities. If you would like to join the Campaign to support and strengthen our efforts, please do get in touch.

james wilsdon signature




James Wilsdon
Chair, Campaign for Social Science
[email protected]




James Wilsdon (Chair), professor of science and democracy, University of Sussex;
Simon Bastow, senior research fellow, LSE Public Policy Group;
Claire Callender FAcSS, professor of higher education policy, Birkbeck and UCL Institute of Education, London;
Diane Coyle, head, Enlightenment Economics and former Vice-Chair, BBC Trust;
Will Davies, senior lecturer in politics, Goldsmiths, University of London;
Charlie Edwards, director of national security and resilience studies, Royal United Services Institute;
Sally Hardy FAcSS, chief executive, Regional Studies Association;
Michelle Harrison, Global Head of the Social and Political Practice, TNS;
John Henneberry FAcSS, professor of property development studies, University of Sheffield;
Heather Laurie, director, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex;
Melissa Leach, director, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex;
Ziyad Marar, global publishing director, SAGE;
Helen Margetts FAcSS, director, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford;
Daryl O’Connor FAcSS, professor of psychology, University of Leeds;
Jane Pilcher, senior lecturer in sociology, University of Leicester;
Michael Reiss FAcSS, professor of science education, UCL Institute of Education, London;
Andy Ross, director, High Oak Enterprises and former deputy director, Government Economic Service;
Sue Scott FAcSS, honorary professor of sociology, Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York;
Hetan Shah, executive director, Royal Statistical Society;
Pat Thane FBA, research professor in contemporary history, King’s College London;
David Walker FAcSS, head of policy, Academy of Social Sciences;
Neil Ward FAcSS, pro vice chancellor, University of East Anglia.


Paul Boyle FAcSS FBA (Chair), vice-chancellor, University of Leicester and former chief executive, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC);
Sir Charles Bean, former deputy governor, Bank of England and professor of economics, London School of Economics;
Colin Crouch FAcSS FBA, vice-president, British Academy and emeritus professor, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick;
Sir Andrew Dilnot, warden, Nuffield College, Oxford and Chair, UK Statistics Authority;
Dame Janet Finch FAcSS, former vice-chancellor, Keele University;
John Goddard FAcSS, emeritus professor of regional development studies, Newcastle University;
Dame Jil Matheson FAcSS, former National Statistician;
Sir Peter Scott FAcSS, professor of higher education studies, UCL Institute of Education, London;
John Urry FAcSS, distinguished professor of sociology, Lancaster University.