The COVID certainty: more savings for the rich, more debt for the poor

By Torsten Bell FAcSS, Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation We are emerging from the COVID crisis, slowly and, thanks to the Delta variant, not so surely. During the pandemic, scientists have understandably been centre stage, helping us understand the virus and its spread. But economists and other social scientists have done their bit too.… Read more »

Children’s rights in a digital world: Can COVID-19 move governments from evidence to action?

By Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE FBA FBPS FAcSS FRSA (Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science), Kristen Hope Burchill (Research, Advocacy and Participation Advisor at Terre des hommes) and Konstantinos Papachristou (Founder of Teens4greece) COVID19 has catapulted society into a wholesale reliance on digital technologies. Almost overnight, children’s lives became… Read more »

Coming out of COVID: Building back better economics

By Professor  Jonathan Portes FAcSS (Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Kings College University London) The National Audit Office remit is to examine how public money is spent by government, not whether the government is spending too much or too little; the latter is about policy, not value for money.  So its innocuously titled new… Read more »

Mind your language: Language and outcomes in the COVID-19 pandemic, and lessons for the future

By Professor Kavita Vedhara FAcSS (Professor of Health Psychology University of Nottingham), Professor John Weinman FAcSS (Professor of Psychology as applied to Medicines, King’s College), Professor Keith Petrie (Professor in Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland), Dr Deepti Gurdasani (Senior Lecturer in Machine Learning, Queen Mary University), Dr Joanne R. Morling(Clinical Associate Professor in Public Health,… Read more »

Social policy perspectives on COVID-19

By Professor Linda Hantrais FAcSS, Emeritus Professor in European Social Policy, Department of Politics and International Studies, Loughborough University; Visiting Professor at the LSE International Inequalities Institute Social policy analysis of the pandemic involves researchers from a wide range of social science and humanities disciplines, spanning history, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology and law. In… Read more »

Understanding and supporting the role of mutual aid groups in the COVID-19 pandemic

By Professor John Drury (Professor of Social Psychology, University of Sussex), Dr Maria Fernandes-Jesus (Research fellow, University of Sussex),  Dr Evangelos Ntontis (Lecturer in Social Psychology, School of Psychology and Life Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University), and Guan Mao, (Research Assistant for the Groups and Covid project at Sussex University) Mutual aid and other community… Read more »

COVID-19 shows how governments need to work more closely with experts in the social aspects of biomedicine

By Professor Martyn Pickersgill FAcSS, Personal Chair of the Sociology of Science and Medicine, University of Edinburgh Science, technology, and medicine are embedded in all aspects of society. They make and are made through social processes, including in times of catastrophe and crisis. Governments tend to see physical and biomedical scientists themselves as the most… Read more »

Cities Coping with COVID-19

By Professor David Simon FAcSS, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London As the scope and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic grew exponentially early last year, it rapidly became clear that its impact on urban areas was neither uniform nor random. In an early effort to understand the emerging patterns of morbidity and mortality,… Read more »

Energising resilience, accelerating agility, and leveraging collaborative partnerships for recovery

By Professor Yipeng Liu FAcSS (Director of the Centre for China Management and Global Business, Henley Business School, University of Reading) On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic; 23 March 2020 witnessed the first national lockdown in the UK. More than one year has passed, and people, organisations… Read more »

Isolated and excluded yet resilient: seeking asylum during a global pandemic

By Professor Peter Hopkins (School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University) and Dr Robin Finlay (School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University) A research team at Newcastle University – led by Peter Hopkins with Robin Finlay and Matthew Benwell – are currently exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on asylum-seeking and refugee… Read more »

Lessons from the Pandemic: The Workplace

By Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE FAcSS, ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the British social reformer John Ruskin wrote: “In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it, they must not do too much… Read more »

Putting meaningful work at the centre of lockdown learning: using hybrid and flexible work to sustain productivity and meet employees’ needs for work-life balance and sociability

By Dr Jane Parry, Lecturer and Director of Research for HRM and Organisational Behaviour within Southampton Business School at the University of Southampton In the early days of 2020, according to data from Understanding Society, just 2.7% of the UK’s population was working from home all of the time.  This had shown little evidence of shifting… Read more »

The zoomshock is changing the urban geography of labour with implications for restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers

By Professor Gianni De Fraja (Professor of Economics, University of Nottingham), Dr Jesse Matheson (Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Sheffield) and Dr James Rockey (Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham)   The zoomshock is changing the urban geography of labour with implications for restaurants, pubs, gyms and hairdressers The economic consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic… Read more »

COVID-19 video series: Martine Stead on UK COVID vaccination rollout and the role of the social sciences

In the latest instalment of our interview series exploring the social science response to COVID-19, Martine Stead, Deputy Director of the Institute of Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, discusses her study on the communications challenges for COVID vaccination rollout in the UK. Visit the hub to learn more about the social science community’s… Read more »

Enabling social action and the MoVE project: the proof is in the pandemic?

By Dr Jon Burchell (University of Sheffield) and Dr Harriet Thiery (University of Sheffield) Understanding how to create the conditions for a thriving civil society — that works in partnership with local governments and communities to reduce inequalities and improve quality of life for their citizens — has long been a concern of social scientists.… Read more »

A crisis exposed – how Covid-19 is impacting domestic abuse reported to the police

By Katrin Hohl (City, University of London) and Kelly Johnson (Durham University) In March 2020, domestic abuse charities sounded the alarm. From the beginning of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, their helplines experienced a sharp rise in calls from victim-survivors, and saw early evidence of domestic abuse cases escalating, featuring high levels of physical violence and… Read more »

Improving the provision of education in the pandemic

By Dr Angela Donkin (Chief Social Scientist at the National Foundation for Educational Research) NFER conducted surveys, in May and July 2020, of school leaders and teachers, in a representative sample of 2200 mainstream primary and secondary schools in England. As the numbers testing positive for Covid 19 are rising rapidly again, what does this… Read more »

Rebuilding government finances after COVID: Is a wealth tax part of the answer?

By Arun Advani (Assistant Professor of Economics and Impact Director of the CAGE Research Centre at the University of Warwick) Four hundred thousand million pounds. That looks set to be the additional borrowing by government this financial year. It is eight times the pre-pandemic borrowing predictions, and comparable only to the world wars in terms… Read more »

A testing time for testing: Assessment literacy as a force for social good in the time of coronavirus

By Professor Lynda Taylor (Visiting Professor at University of Bedfordshire and President of the UK Association of Language Testing and Assessment) and Professor Luke Harding (Professor in Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University) “The one thing that is worse than no test is a bad test.” Professor Chris Whitty’s memorable phrase made news in… Read more »

Making government empirical

By David Halpern FAcSS (Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team and What Works National Advisor) Something important is happening in government. Beneath the headlines on coronavirus, leaving the EU, and the latest on the US election, governments and public services are becoming more empirical – and more precisely – ‘experimental’. The outward sign is… Read more »

Tracking the psychological and social waves of the pandemic: the COVID-19 Social Study

By Dr Daisy Fancourt (Associate Professor of Psychobiology & Epidemiology, University College London) When the COVID-19 pandemic first reached the UK in early 2020, the immediate focus was on the importance of testing and tracking the development of the virus to provide regular data to policy makers and members of the public. However, it became… Read more »

How are we doing during Covid? What will have the biggest impact on our communities and our national welfare?

By Nancy Hey (Director of What Works Centre for Wellbeing) Wellbeing is ‘​how we’re doing​ as communities, individuals and as a nation, and how sustainable it is for the future’ (ONS) and is referred to in the Treasury ​Green Book​ as Social Value. ​Wellbeing Economics ​is how we allocate resources to best improve lives now… Read more »

Event report: How can social statistics help us fight COVID-19?

Organised by The Campaign for Social Science and with support from SAGE Publishing, the panel discussion featured three speakers speaking on the role of timely, appropriately representative, and reliable social statistics in informing the COVID-19 response and recovery planning. The panel was chaired by National Statistician Professor, Sir Ian Diamond, who shared insightful findings from… Read more »

Taking the risk of getting it wrong in a pandemic

By Rachel Tuffin (Director of Knowledge and Innovation of the College of Policing What Works Centre for Crime Reduction) During the pandemic, key questions about liberty and responsibility have been contested internationally. How much should be left to individuals’ discretion to do the right thing? How much should the state do to control people’s behaviour?… Read more »

Understanding the Uneven Impact of Covid-19 and Helping Inform the Local Economic Policy Response

By Professor Henry Overman (Director of the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth)   Large shocks, unique circumstances and rapid policy responses are a challenge for those of us who promote evidenced-based policy making. At the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (What Works Growth), as with the rest of the What Works… Read more »

Tackling homelessness in the age of COVID-19

By Dr Lígia Teixeira (Chief Executive of the Centre for Homelessness Impact) When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in the UK, policymakers, practitioners and campaigners alike feared a catastrophic coronavirus outbreak among people experiencing homelessness. Estimates suggest that in 2019 there were around 280,000 people experiencing homelessness in England – with a further 220,000 people threatened… Read more »

Covid-19 and ageing better: life after ‘normal’

By Anna Dixon (Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better) At the Centre for Ageing Better, we work to ensure that people approaching later life can live healthier and more active lives, be in good quality work for longer, and live in safe, accessible homes and communities where it is easier to build and… Read more »

The impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable children and families

By Jo Casebourne (Chief Executive, Early Intervention Foundation) Ensuring evidence is part of the response to Covid-19 The Early Intervention Foundation is an independent charity, but we are also part of the What Works Network. This means we often play a role of being a critical friend to government when trying to ensure that evidence… Read more »

Putting evidence to work in a lockdown and beyond: how we’ve set about addressing the Covid-19 attainment gap

By Professor Becky Francis (Chief Executive, Education Endowment Foundation) When schools were closed to most pupils in March to stop the spread of Covid-19, two questions were uppermost in my mind. First, what would the impact be on the attainment gap which separates disadvantaged children from their better-off classmates? And secondly, given the severe risk… Read more »

What Works and the Pandemic

Michael Sanders (Chief Executive of What Works for Children’s Social Care) and Ella Whelan (Research Assistant at What Works for Children’s Social Care) The emergence of a global pandemic in early 2020 has shaken up the established order of social policy to an extent we would have thought unimaginable twelve months ago. A year ago… Read more »

Covid-19 and Geopolitics

By Dr David Mussington (Director of the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise and Professor of the Practice at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy) A pair of existential crises – the spread and disruptive impacts of COVID-19, and the intensification of peer competition between the United States and China – together… Read more »

Social science inspires researchers to create much needed system and service change for people who are homeless with substance use problems

By Dr Hannah Carver and Dr Tessa Parkes, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard for us all, but let’s consider how much harder it has probably been for people experiencing homelessness and problem substance use. For them, the coronavirus can be particularly dangerous because following public health advice is… Read more »

The truth about Covid

By Mark Easton, BBC’s Home Editor The virus can neither be bullied nor sweet-talked. It is above and beneath politics, deaf to entreaty and blind to justice. Hope does not lie in ideology or propaganda but in evidence and facts, however inconvenient. We must apply the laws of science, both natural and social, to understand… Read more »

Will Coronavirus change voters’ expectations of government?

By Professor Sir John Curtice FBA FRSS FRSE FAcSS (Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde, and Senior Research Fellow, NatCen Social Research) The coronavirus pandemic has seen the government intervene in the country’s social and economic life to a degree unprecedented in peacetime. At the height of the pandemic people were required to stay at… Read more »

COVID-19: Lessons to be learned from confronting a wicked problem

By Professor Ray Hudson FAcSS (Professor of Geography, Durham University) There is no doubt that the arrival of the coronavirus has posed unprecedented problems for public policymakers and politicians in and beyond the UK.  COVID-19 can be thought of as a classic example of a wicked problem. That is, a complex problem with emergent effects… Read more »

How political science can help the COVID-19 response: Insights from a study of China

By Professor Jane Duckett FBA FRSE FAcSS (Edward Caird Chair of Politics, University of Glasgow, and Director of the Scottish Centre for China Research) Political science’s role in the world’s COVID-19 response Governments around the world have responded very differently to the pandemic because of the political ideologies of their leaders, because of the structure… Read more »

COVID-19 and Energy System Transformation – the future in fast forward? Or old habits die hard?

By Professor Michael Bradshaw FAcSS (Professor of Global Energy, Warwick Business School) and Dr Caroline Kuzemko (Associate Professor of International Political Economy, University of Warwick) In March, we were planning a workshop on ‘The Geopolitics of Energy System Transformation’, to be held at Warwick Business School’s Shard facility in June. The workshop was linked to… Read more »

New COVID-19 video series begins with Paul Johnson FAcSS Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

As part of our programme of work showcasing the social science community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Campaign for Social Science together with the Academy of Social Science has teamed up with the Policy Institute at King’s College London to launch a new series of short video interviews. Over the coming weeks leading academics,… Read more »

An immune system for the body politic: Using social science to control COVID-19

By Dr Thomas Hale (Associate Professor of Global Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford) COVID-19 attacks the human body, but it is largely the body politic that defends us against it. While we wait for vaccines and treatments, we depend on health systems, governments, and the actions of others to detect the… Read more »

Contact tracing apps highlight bigger challenges with tech, trust and power

By Chris Yiu (Executive Director for Technology and Public Policy, Tony Blair Institute) The pandemic has brought more technology into all of our lives, from family gatherings on Zoom through to doing the weekly shop online. It has also played an important role in the policy response, by arming policymakers and public health authorities with… Read more »

Social science provides an essential evidence base for the policy response to COVID-19

By the Decision Maker Panel (A partnership between the Bank of England, Stanford University and University of Nottingham) There is a widespread call for an evidence-based response to the pandemic. ‘The Science’, we are told, informs the government policy on the medical aspects of the problem. We might reasonably ask what evidence base can social… Read more »

Future-proofing fiscal stimulus for the post-COVID-19 world

By Tera Allas CBE FAcSS (Director of Research and Economics, McKinsey United Kingdom and Ireland Office) Fresh strategic thinking could be key to ensuring that any post-COVID-19 fiscal stimulus fully supports the government’s aims for long-term, sustainable, equitable growth. COVID-19 has not changed the fundamental long-term priorities for the UK Countries around the world have… Read more »

Covid-19 and mental health: A window of opportunity for social science

By Professor Louise Arseneault FMedSci FAcSS (Professor of Developmental Psychology, King’s College London and Mental Health Leadership Fellow for the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council) The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a general sense of loss across borders: loss of lives, employment, relationships, homes, education, and opportunities. People’s care and concern for others have found… Read more »

Covid-19 and Social Security – where now and where next?

By Professor Jane Millar OBE (Professor of Social Policy in the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath) Many people have been unable to work, or have lost their jobs, in the Covid-19 lockdown. The social security system is there to help people in such circumstances, to maintain income and to prevent destitution.… Read more »

Politics after the pandemic

By Professor Anand Menon (Director, The UK in a Changing Europe and Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs, Kings College London) Politics is back. From the exchanges at PMQs, to the bickering among Tory backbenchers, to Jeremy Corbyn claiming he was right all along, things seem to be returning to something approaching normal. Yet… Read more »

Universities and the recovery of local communities from the COVID-19 crisis: A role for the social sciences

By Professor John Goddard OBE FAcSS (Emeritus Professor of Regional Development Studies, University of Newcastle) and Des McNulty  (Assistant Vice Principal for Economic Development and Civic Engagement,  University of Glasgow, and Vice Chair of the Glasgow Commission for Economic Growth) While universities face major challenges to their funding and business models as a result of… Read more »

Pandemic acceleration

By Professor Andrew Tatem FAcSS (Professor of Spatial Demography and Epidemiology, University of Southampton and Director of WorldPop and Flowminder) COVID-19 is breaking records for its speed of global domination – what are the changes in global connectivity behind this and how can we measure them? It took thousands of years for humans to reach… Read more »

We need an evidence-based recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

By Professor Steve Martin (Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Wales Centre for Public Policy, Cardiff University) It’s June 2016 and the UK Justice Secretary is telling a Sky News Q&A on Brexit ‘People in this country have had enough of experts’.  Fast forward four years and it all feels very different. Now… Read more »

Business as usual? Race, white privilege and COVID-19

By Professor Kalwant Bhopal FAcSS (Professor of Education and Social Justice and Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Education, University of Birmingham) Recent figures released from the ONS suggest that the number of COVID-19 deaths amongst members of the BME community is much higher compared to those from white and other backgrounds.… Read more »

Social solidarity and social cohesion: The headline story of COVID-19

By Professor Stephen Reicher (Professor of Psychology in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St. Andrews) Over recent weeks, social science has been in the media to an extent that I have never seen before. Discussions of social cohesion and social solidarity, of trust and of relations to authority have become… Read more »

Re-imagining science advice in a post-COVID-19 future

By Dr Chris Tyler (Director of Research and Policy, UCL, STEaPP) and Dr Adam Cooper (Lecturer in Social Science and Public Policy, UCL, STEaPP) Science advisory structures have been shaped by events. In the UK, the modern science advisory system was heavily influenced by the experience of dealing with the BSE crisis, with minor but… Read more »

COVID-19 in care homes: What happened and how should we go forward?

By Professor Mary Daly FAcSS FBA ( Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Oxford)   What happened? While we are still gathering the evidence on the particular vulnerability of care homes to the pandemic, the statistics to date are arresting and disturbing. As of  May 19 2020, there had been nearly 15,000 COVID-19 attributed… Read more »

Responding to COVID-19: Social capital and the social sector in the 21st century

By Andy Haldane FAcSS (Chief Economist and Executive Director, Monetary Analysis and Statistics, Bank of England) “There’s no such thing as society”.  So said Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1987, in a famous interview for Women’s Own magazine.  She went on, “people must look after themselves first” and then, and only then, their neighbours.… Read more »

The COVID-19 crisis and educational inequality

By Professor Anna Vignoles (Professor of Education, University of Cambridge) and Professor Simon Burgess (Professor of Economics, University of Bristol) Younger generations will pay a heavy price for our response to this virus. First, their educational opportunities and attainment are being affected by lockdown, variable home-learning facilities, and changing assessment methods. Second, leaving school in… Read more »

Managing the impacts of COVID-19: The role of behavioural and social sciences

By Professor Susan Michie FAcSS FMedSci (Director of UCL Centre for Behaviour Change) and Michael Sanders (Reader in Public Policy at KCL Policy Institute and Chief Executive, What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care) The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged much of the world, leading to quarantines, lockdowns, and the unprecedentedly vast state intervention in the… Read more »

Economics and epidemiology in the time of COVID-19

By Jonathan Portes (Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Kings College University London) “Assume a can-opener”.  The old joke about the economist on a desert island (look it up!) sums up one view of economists, and by extension other social scientists – their theories may be interesting, but they aren’t of much use in a… Read more »

Bringing together the social science response to COVID-19

By Professor Bobby Duffy (Chair, Campaign for Social Science) and Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS (Chief Executive, Academy of Social Sciences) The Campaign for Social Science has a core mission to demonstrate the vital role that social sciences play in improving decision-making, societies and lives. It’s a mission we passionately believe in, and a role… Read more »

Social sciences and social imagination

By Professor Geoff Mulgan CBE (Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation, UCL) Crises – whether wars or pandemics – can sometimes, though not always, fuel social imagination.  New arrangements have to be created at breakneck speed and old norms have to be discarded.  The deeper the crisis the more likely it is… Read more »