Reflections on an uplifting and sobering conference

by Nancy Kelley Deputy Chief Executive and Director of the Policy Research Centre, NatCen. Listening to such a talented group of women over the course of an afternoon at the Women In Social Science conference was uplifting and sobering in equal parts. The quality of thinking, the honesty, and the passion of the speakers was uplifting.… Read more »

Mental Health, Academic Life and Me

by Matthew Flinders FAcSS [World Mental Health Day 2018] ‘How can we live in a mad world’ Matt Haig writes in his book Notes on a Nervous Planet (2018) ‘without ourselves going mad?’ This is not, if we are honest, a new question. In the 1960s the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing challenged the idea… Read more »

Other people are having way, way less sex than you think they are

By Bobby Duffy, Board Member, Campaign for Social Sciences, King’s College London Research shows we think young people have a lot more sex than they do in reality – and men have a particularly skewed view of the sex lives of young women. As part of Ipsos’ long-running studies on misperceptions, to be released in a… Read more »

Meet the Board: Rachel Neaman

Rachel Neaman is a digital leader specialising in digital transformation, ethics, skills and inclusion. She has extensive senior leadership experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in the UK and internationally. Passionate about harnessing technology for positive social outcomes and ensuring technology works for everyone, she has held CEO positions in the not-for-profit sector, and was the first… Read more »

Meet the Board: Jonathan Portes

Jonathan Portes is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London Jonathan is also a Senior Fellow of the Economic and Social Research Council’s “UK in a Changing Europe” initiative, based at King’s, which promotes high quality research into the complex and changing relationship between the UK and the European Union and… Read more »

Meet the Board: Bobby Duffy

Bobby Duffy is the Managing Director of Public Affairs in the UK and Global Director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute. He has previously been seconded to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, conducting analyses on life satisfaction and trust in other people, and is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Policy Institute, King’s College… Read more »

Meet the Board: Patrick Diamond

Dr. Patrick Diamond is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary, University of London. He was also a Senior Adviser in Number 10 and the Cabinet Office for over 10 years. Patrick Diamond has authored a number of books and reports on social and public policy, and is a former Councillor in the… Read more »

The British public aren’t as polarised on immigration as you might think

In an article originally appearing in The Conversation, Dr Tom Vickers, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Nottingham Trent University, examines attitudes to migration and how policy could be developed to foster more inclusive consensus.  The British government’s target to bring net migration down to the tens of thousands has been criticised in a new report by MPs, who claim… Read more »

Catalonia crisis shows Spain’s constitution is no longer fit for purpose

In an article originally featured in The Conversation, Dr Emmy Eklundh, Lecturer in Spanish and International Politics at King’s College London explores how the deepening crisis in Catalonia injects new urgency into the need for constitutional reform in Spain. Amid reports swirling that Catalonia’s president, Carles Puigdemont, was either set to call new elections to… Read more »

Gedzgem – Resilience: Researching Global Mental Health Multilingually

Alison Phipps, UNESCO Chair: Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, University of Glasgow, looks at the power of language and performance in helping communities overcome trauma. Our first visit to Ghana, with our hosts Gameli and Naa Densua Tordzro, was part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Large Translating Cultures Grant: Researching Multilingually… Read more »

Is together always better?

Dr Robin Miller, Deputy Director of the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre, looks at how to create successful partnerships in the NHS. How good are NHS organisations and the wider system at achieving the potential benefits of partnering? The opportunity to move away from current frustrations may seem attractive but there’s no guarantee… Read more »

Is it too late to build a better world?

Professor Sir Keith Burnett FRS explains why the UK should invest in the social sciences. The greatest challenge we face is to use our intellects to guide our actions in making the world a better place for us and our fellow human beings. This is no easy task and its history is littered with false… Read more »

Spotting the fake

Marina Jirotka is Professor of Human Centred Computing, Associate Director of the Oxford e-Research Centre and Associate Researcher of the Oxford Internet Institute. Helena Webb is a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford. Here they consider what can be done by government and social media platforms to tackle… Read more »

We need a new narrative around sexuality in the UK

It’s been 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK, marked by decades of progress made by the LGBTQ community in the push for equality. Here, Michelle Grimwood, PhD Scholar in the Faculty of Education Health at the University of Greenwich, looks at the quality of life reported by lesbian, gay, and bisexual people,… Read more »

Should we be worried about the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement?

Last week’s Queen’s Speech confirmed that despite the path chosen by the US, the UK would honour the Paris Agreement. Here Shonil Bhagwat, Senior Lecturer in Geography at the Open University, looks at the motivations and implications behind the US decision, and how international action on climate change will go on. As the world’s second… Read more »

The DUP for early learners

Theresa May’s ongoing efforts of forming a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party following last Thursday’s hung parliament have propelled the Northern Ireland party into the national spotlight. Professor John Brewer of Queen’s University Belfast offers a ‘crash course’ in the DUP, the price of cooperation and risks for both parties, and how this… Read more »

Brexit, net migration and Eurochildren

Dr Nando Sigona, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of IRiS at the University of Birmingham, looks at UK net migration targets and how the consequences of Brexit are felt more widely among EU nationals. The UK’s Office for National Statistics has released its quarterly update on net migration. This time the figure, 248,000, the lowest… Read more »

France’s ambiguous presidential election

As a new president is inaugurated in France, James Shields FAcSS, Professor of French Politics and Modern History at Aston University, warns against seeing Emmanuel Macron’s election as a mandate to reform France or as a sign that the challenge from the Front National has been seen off. Does Emmanuel Macron’s victory over Marine Le… Read more »

Rights and repression: how leaders respond to violent and peaceful protests

Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb, Senior Lecturer in International Relations at UCL, looks at the multipronged approach of leaders in responding to both violent and peaceful protests. Clyde Beatty, one of America’s most famous lion tamers performing in the early 20th century, had a distinct approach to keeping lions and tigers at bay during performances. He… Read more »

Social science is key to tackling challenges facing UK healthcare

Following the launch of The Health of People report on April 5, Alessandro Lanuto, Communications Manager at the Campaign for Social Science, looks at how the social sciences can relieve pressure on healthcare services and improve population health. There are nearly four million people living with diabetes in the UK. One in four British adults… Read more »

The Oscars and inequality that stubbornly persists

As the dust settles on last month’s Oscars ceremony, Sara De Benedictis of City University London and the London School of Economics, and Dr Anne Graefer of the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, analyse the event’s political undertones, as well as some of the social, racial and gender inequalities that persist in Hollywood.… Read more »

Martin McGuinness’s resignation and the prospects for change in Northern Ireland

Martin McGuinness’s resignation has prompted reactions ranging from accusations of political sabotage to speculation about his ailing health. Here, John Brewer, Professor of Post Conflict Studies at Queen’s University Belfast, examines what this means for Northern Ireland’s future, and whether the current power-sharing agreement that privileges the largest parties will be maintained, or if this… Read more »

‘Fake news’–why people believe it and what can be done to counter it

In the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the US, “fake news” has emerged as a pervasive, and potentially subversive, phenomenon. In an article promoted by the Campaign and originally appearing in The Conversation, Professor Simeon Yates, Director of the Institute of Cultural Capital, a strategic collaboration between the University of… Read more »

From Rabbits to Ubers: What the ‘new’ gig economy means for employment, education and politics

The ‘#gigeconomy’ has rapidly transformed how people work. Professor John Bryson, Professor of Enterprise and Economic Geography at the University of Birmingham, traces the evolution of these transformations and their effect on the capitalist system, while setting out how education and political structures need to respond to ensure long term benefits. A new term –… Read more »

New constituency boundaries for the House of Commons: gerrymandering or independent process?

With Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election and ever-louder whispers of a possible snap election before 2020, the impact of last month’s new constituency boundary proposals could redefine the political landscape sooner than expected. Here, Dr Alistair Clark, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Newcastle University, examines the history and possible impacts of the proposals, while highlighting how social… Read more »

A second Corbyn victory will have significant consequences, both for the Labour Party and for British politics

With Jeremy Corbyn’s widely-expected landslide victory to be announced on Saturday, Dr Judi Atkins, Lecturer in Politics at Coventry University, assesses the implications of his re-election both for Labour and British politics more broadly. Following the EU referendum result and the subsequent vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party embarked on its… Read more »

Terror, Republican values and a very French paradox

As France comes to terms with a series of major terrorist atrocities, its core Republican values are being tested by a prolonged national state of emergency and an increasingly security-driven public agenda. Professor James Shields FAcSS, Professor of French Politics and Modern History at Aston University, reflects on the political implications of the intensified terrorist… Read more »

The need for a whole system approach in prison reform

Professor Martina Feilzer, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice in the School of Social Sciences at Bangor University, looks at the challenges that lie ahead for the sweeping prison reforms announced in last May’s Queen’s Speech, and what the new Justice Secretary can do to tackle many of the pressing issues that persist. It… Read more »

Newsfocus: Understanding the (Rio 2016) Olympics

With the Rio Olympics kicking off this Friday, Professor John Horne FAcSS, Professor of Sport Sociology at the University of Central Lancashire, and author of Understanding the Olympics, looks at the challenges facing the Olympic brand and discusses some of the underlying criticisms exposed by the 2016 edition.

UK social science will be dealt a serious blow by Brexit

In an article originally appearing in the Guardian, Ashley Lenihan and Sharon Witherspoon look at the long term implications of Brexit for UK social science.

Academy calls for detailed parliamentary scrutiny of Higher Education and Research Bill

The Academy of Social Sciences and its Campaign for Social Science have called for detailed parliamentary scrutiny of the Higher Education and Research Bill following the uncertainty resulting from the referendum decision to leave the European Union.

Driverless cars and the society of traffic

Last week’s Queen’s Speech set out bold new technological initiatives that seemed reminiscent more of science fiction than practical policy. In the first of our series of responses to some of the government’s proposals, Dr Eric Laurier, Reader in Geography and Interaction, and Deputy Head of RTD: Social Sciences Recruitment at the University of Edinburgh,… Read more »

Study indicates immigration not to blame for terrorism

Migration is overall not a source of terrorism according to new research from the University of Warwick. In fact the study indicates that more migration could create a decrease in the number of terrorist attacks, not an increase. The research was designed to establish whether migration helps spread terror attacks between countries. The lead author,… Read more »

Four billion people affected by severe water scarcity

There are four billion people worldwide who are affected by severe water scarcity for at least one month a year. That is the conclusion of University of Twente Professor of Water Management, Arjen Hoekstra, after many years’ extensive research. This alarming figure is much higher than was previously thought. His ground-breaking research was published in… Read more »

Media scepticism sows doubt, not progress, on climate change

In the third and final article of our COP21 commentary series, Dr. Catherine Happer, Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow, looks at why climate change still hasn’t captured headlines in the UK, and how the interplay between media and politics fuels scepticism and apathy, despite increasing popular support for action. On November 30,… Read more »

What do belief systems have to do with climate change?

The similarities between climate change and belief systems may be its strength because they help reinforce the idea of climate change, influence public opinion and trigger public action in just the same ways as belief systems gain popularity and mass support.

What do belief systems have to do with climate change?

In the second article in our COP21 commentary series, Shonil Bhagwat, Senior Lecturer in Geography at the Open University, looks at the similarities between belief systems and climate change, and how their interconnectedness helps reinforce climate change as an idea, while influencing public opinion and triggering public action. The world is waiting with baited breath… Read more »

The ‘issue from hell’

The major reason for why climate change is a wicked problem is that, even as far back as 1998, it was realised that it necessarily concerns human activities and not just physical or technological futures.

The ‘issue from hell’

From November 30 to December 11, the eyes of the world will be on Paris as leaders from around the globe convene to agree historic measures aimed at reducing carbon emissions. With COP21 now in full swing, the Campaign takes a look at the role of social science in understanding the causes and impacts of… Read more »

World University Rankings 2015-2016 by subject: social sciences results announced

View the full list of the world’s top 100 universities for social sciences The triumph of the US and the UK in the Times Higher Education subject ranking for social sciences sends a “powerful warning” to policymakers to “tinker” with funding “at your peril”. That is the view of James Wilsdon, professor of science and… Read more »

The spending review is just the start of a battle for UK research

In an article originally appearing in The Guardian, Campaign Chair James Wilsdon, Campaign Head of Policy David Walker, and Kieron Flanagan, senior lecturer in science and technology policy at the University of Manchester, write about the future of UK research.

Social scientists represented among Queen’s Honours

Social scientists were well-represented among the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015.

Almost half of the world’s leaders have a social science degree

A study of the world’s leaders has found that almost half have a social science degree. The British Council, in partnership with Ipsos Public Affairs, conducted a study of the educational backgrounds of 1,700 people in 30 countries.

We need to invest in early intervention services to improve lives and save money

Dr Sajid Humayun, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich, writes about a recent letter in the press from charities saying that early interventions to stop young people getting into serious difficulties could save £1.7bn a year: Persistent antisocial behaviour is remarkably common. In its most severe form as a diagnosable mental disorder,… Read more »

Schools need to do more to tackle bullying

Dr Loretta Trickett, Senior Lecturer in Criminal Law, International Criminal Law and Criminology, at Nottingham Trent University, writes about a recent important study on the effects of bullying, and her own childhood experiences It is perhaps unsurprising that a longitudinal study by Warwick University  has found that the effects of bullying by peers is more… Read more »

European governments are responsible for the Mediterranean death toll

Dr Tom Vickers, Lecturer in the Department of Social Sciences and Languages at Northumbria University, writes about the recent migrant deaths in the Mediterranean: 24.4.15:  The deaths of at least 1,200 people in the last week, as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, have caused outrage in the European media, and… Read more »

Social scientists are as vital as engineers, argues Academy Fellow

Professor Jonathan Michie FAcSS, co-editor with Professor Sir Cary Cooper FAcSS, of Why the Social Sciences Matter, has written about the need for social science input into the the greatest challenges of our time, for the Guardian Higher Education Network. He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. Read the article  

The latest social science podcasts

Catch up with the latest social science podcasts of talks at the British Library. These include one by Professor Matthew Flinders FAcSS, University of Sheffield, author of Defending Politics. He spoke on ‘The Problem with Democracy’

Help to build a picture of UK research

Social scientists have the chance to contribute to a project which maps out UK science. The Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology is running a project is to build a picture of the whole research landscape in the UK and to develop a stronger evidence base.

Social scientists well-represented among New Year Honours

Social scientists were well-represented among the New Year Honours 2015.

Key book on the importance of social science to be published

A major new work on the importance social science is to be released in the new year. Why the Social Sciences Matter, by Professor Jonathan Michie and Professor Sir Cary Cooper, is published by Palgrave.

Campaign welcomes Department for Education ‘evidence check’

The Campaign for Social Science welcomes the launch of an online forum which members of the public can use to evaluate evidence from the Department for Education. The initiative follows a request by the House of Commons Education Committee to the Department for its policy and evidence on each of nine topics. Anyone is welcome… Read more »

Sex crimes not being recorded: the police need to believe allegations

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has today published a damning report on police crime recording. It estimates that, each year, almost a million crimes are missed out of official figures. It points particularly to violent and sex crimes that are not recorded. In this article, Dr Kate Cook (right), Manchester Metropolitan University, looks at… Read more »

Multiculturalism promotes better exam results

Dr Caroline Howarth, of the London School of Economics, argues that multiculturalism itself is part of the reason for good exam results in London: Recent research discussed in The Guardian last week shows that schools with higher numbers of ethnic minority pupils do better than more mono-cultural schools. While some commentators and politicians seem miffed… Read more »

Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell was right to resign

Professor Saville Kushner has 30 years’ experience working with the Home Office and the police service on policing culture and national police training. He has served as advisor on a ministerial working party on police training. He has worked at the University of the West of England and is now at the University of Auckland.… Read more »

News Focus: Sexual exploitation of young people in Rotherham

Alexis Jay’s report on the sexual exploitation of young people in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 has rightly attracted a good deal of media attention and public concern. However, it is far from clear that either the report’s author or the media framing of the story has got to the heart of the problem.

Sexual exploitation of young people in Rotherham

Professor Robert Dingwall, a part-time adviser to the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, writes about the Rotherham sexual abuse scandal: Alexis Jay’s report on the sexual exploitation of young people in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013 has rightly attracted a good deal of media attention and public concern. The experiences described are… Read more »

News Focus: ‘verbal abuse is not readily recognised as criminal offence’

The Campaign’s latest News Focus piece, by Dr Kate Cook, looks at the government consultation on whether to make non-violent domestic abuse a criminal offence.

Harassment, monitoring and verbal abuse are not readily recognised as criminal offences

The Government has begun a consultation process on changing the law surrounding domestic abuse to establish whether we might move towards a specific offence covering this commonplace crime. Feminist groups have long emphasised the prevalence of verbal abuse and controlling behaviour as a part what used to be termed ‘domestic violence’. The consultation will explore… Read more »

Israel and Gaza

The death toll in the conflict in the Gaza Strip has risen to over 1,000, as Israeli forces undertake military operations in response to Hamas rocket attacks. As part of a series of News Focus articles, in which we draw upon the expertise of social scientists to throw light on important events, we talk to… Read more »

News Focus: Israel and Gaza

The death toll in the conflict in the Gaza Strip has risen to over 1,000, as Israeli forces undertake military operations in response to Hamas rocket attacks.  As part of a series of News Focus articles, in which we draw upon the expertise of social scientists to throw light on important events, we talk to… Read more »

Academy of Social Sciences welcomes appointment of new head of ESRC

The representative body of the social sciences in the UK has welcomed the appointment of Professor Jane Elliott as the new head of the Economic and Social Research Council.

Social sciences ‘will become more unified over next 10 years’

The social sciences will become more unified in their methods and conclusions under the influence of big data, software developments and innovation from STEM subjects, Professor Patrick Dunleavy told the Academy of Social Sciences annual lecture. “A lot of new methods are coming in from the STEM sciences [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] that are… Read more »

Chair of the Academy knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to social science

The Chair of the Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Cary Cooper, has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to social science

The impact of impact

Professor Irene Hardill, of the University of Northumbria, and Professor Jon Bannister, Manchester Metropolitan University write about the pressure to demonstrate the impact of academic research

News Focus: Promoting human right is not just about formulating law – social science is needed for social change

Opinion piece: The Campaign site gives many examples of how social science has helped our society. In this article Dr Lok Bhattarai, of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, uses his expertise on Nepal to show how policy advocacy fails to deliver the desired outcome when social science is not made… Read more »

Social science is needed for social change

In this article Dr Lok Bhattarai, of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Leeds Metropolitan University, uses his expertise on Nepal to show how policy advocacy fails to deliver the desired outcome when social science is not made an important part of decision-making: All attempts at social change and economic development need to make… Read more »

Two Campaign supporters given awards

Two senior members of the Campaign were given awards in the New Year’s Honours List. Professor Tony Crook, the first Chair of the Campaign, was awarded a CBE. Ceridwen Roberts, a member of the Campaign Board, was given an OBE.

Campaign concerned about new campaigning rules

The Campaign is one of dozens of non-profit organisations that have raised concerns about a new Parliamentary Bill on campaigning and are asking the Government to make the rules clearer and less restrictive

Social Science Parks

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln, writes about her vision of Social Science Parks, where business, professionals and academics come together

Chief Social Scientist post is high on policy-makers agenda, says Campaign

The issue of the reinstatement of the post of Government Chief Social Scientist is much higher on the agenda of policy-makers now, the Campaign’s Director, Stephen Anderson, has said.

What works or what may work, and bets on whether it will

Opinion piece: by Michael Bassey AcSS, Emeritus Professor of Education of Nottingham Trent University: On 4th March the Cabinet Office issued this press release: LAUNCH OF THE WHAT WORKS CENTRES A new initiative will build on existing evidence-based policy making to guide decision-making on £200 billion of public spending. National government and local public services… Read more »

Campaign will stop social science being undervalued, roadshow hears

Social scientists have felt undervalued and unappreciated, but the campaign organised on their behalf was changing that, a roadshow at London Metropolitan University on 20 February heard.

Evidence informs, but only when it is understood

The Government Office for Science (GO Science) launched its eagerly awaited Foresight Report on Tuesday 27th November entitled “Reducing Risk for Future Disasters” looking towards shoring up communities – urban and rural – for scenarios anticipated up to 2040. Its focus was primarily on developing countries. It will influence much of the thinking of scientists… Read more »

‘A government must have senior social scientists in senior roles’

The Director of the Campaign for Social Science, Stephen Anderson, has spoken out in favour of the restoration of the post of Government Chief Social Scientist. In a blog on the Nesta website, Mr Anderson says: “Without this role, no government can be fully informed about the best policies.” Read more  (this opens a new browser tab)

From behaviour to benefit

We reproduce here an article written by Stephen Anderson, Director of the Campaign (from Public Service Review, European Union – Issue 23)  in which he urges the use of research to better inform public policy: It often seems to surprise us when other people don’t behave as we do or react as we expect. Our own ways… Read more »

Social Science – a few more reasons why we need it

Introduction Professor Audrey Osler has written ten reasons why we need social science for the Campaign’s website – see previous entries. Here she adds six more: 1. Democracy and devolution. Audrey Osler’s tenth reason is to do with the capacity of social science to assist in guaranteeing democracy by helping us to hold politicians to… Read more »

10 reasons why we need social science

Professor Audrey Osler has written ten reasons why we need social science for the Campaign’s website: 10 reasons why you need social science We know that Britain’s social scientists are world leaders in their fields, but why do we need them? And if they weren’t around to analyse what’s going on, would you miss them?… Read more »

How we can help build the case, by David Walker

Here David Walker, the Campaign’s Advisor, writes about building a case for social science: ‘Society, socialism sociology…Public money could not be spent to support such error.’ That was view of the Tory minister Sir Keith Joseph in the early 1980s, as paraphrased by Michael Posner, the then chairman of the Social Science Research Council –… Read more »

Springing into social action by Audrey Osler

When given the proper level of recognition, social science can change people’s lives for the better, declares Audrey Osler, Professor of Education at the University of Leeds, in an opinion piece for the Campaign’s website: Why, when we have such talented social scientists, has the impact of academic research on policymaking been limited? This question… Read more »