Welsh social science research ‘vital in driving innovation in policymaking’

July 14, 2015

The Academy and its Campaign for Social Science launched the latest booklet in their ‘Making the Case for the Social Sciences’ series today [July 14]. Read the booklet.

An audience of social scientists, civil servants, policy makers and MPs attended the launch of ‘Making the Case for the Social Sciences 10 – Wales’ at the BIS Conference Centre in London.

Key themes of the event were the responsiveness of social science to local and global challenges – and its ability to inform policy and practice as a result – as well as the role of Welsh institutions in producing research with national and international impact.

Ceridwen Roberts OBE FAcSS FLSW, Council Member of the Academy of Social Sciences, kicked off the event by recognising the influence of Welsh social science research beyond its borders. ‘Wales may be home to just 9 of the UK’s 109 Higher Education institutions, but as you will quickly see, it punches well above its weight in contributing to policy and practice across a whole range of social science areas and disciplines.’

The Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office and Department of Energy and Climate Change, who launched the booklet, spoke of the vital role of the social sciences in driving innovation in policy making, saying ‘it’s through social science research that we can truly understand many of the issues facing modern society.’

Lord Bourne also used the event as an opportunity to reinforce the government’s commitment to devolution, as the ‘one-size fits all model’ no longer applies in addressing increasingly complex issues. He stressed the importance of policy development that meets the needs of diverse communities, applauding social science research for answering that call.

Research presented at the event included:

  • An ethnographic study by Professor Fiona Brookman of the University of South Wales into the culture and procedures of homicide units. This found a divide between the 90% citizen cooperation rate with police in the UK, and historically low levels in the US. As a result, new measures, such as assessing the impact on local communities, have been introduced into investigative procedures.
  • Work by researchers at the University of Swansea into improving the evidence base for policy in areas of employment and public sector pay. Their findings were quoted by the Welsh government in arguing against the introduction of regional pay, which could have resulted in a cut in real wages.

Other topics featured in the booklet include strategies for tackling child obesity; innovative dementia treatments through Cognitive Stimulation Therapy; combating human trafficking; new approaches to fighting the ‘war on drugs’, and; protecting human rights for young people in Wales.

This is the 10th booklet in the ‘Making the Case’ series, each summarising research that has had a direct benefit for society. Previous booklet topics include crime, climate change, ageing, management and sport. The booklets are used to promote the power of social science to influence government policy and important social issues.

The Wales booklet is sponsored by the Welsh Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD), and Swansea University’s Research Institute for Applied Social Sciences (RIASS).

Press release on the event

The text of the speech by Lord Bourne

View the booklet | Other Making the Case booklets | Gallery of launch photos