Category: social science

Social science spinouts a neglected pathway to impact?

The abstract nature of knowledge derived from the social sciences has often led to it being written off as common sense, or as being ill-suited to practical application. In this post, Chris Fellingham, argues that creating businesses and social ventures based on social science insights presents bold, new opportunities for social science research to deliver … Continued

Behavioural science and the response to COVID-19: a missed opportunity?

While the role of behavioural science in the UK’s handling of the pandemic has been criticised, Peter John and Gerry Stoker argue that it is important for governments to try and influence citizens’ behaviour rather than rely on laws that are harder to enforce. They nevertheless explain why a different ‘nudging’ approach ought to have … Continued

Science in inaction – The shifting priorities of the UK government’s response to COVID-19 highlights the need for publicly accountable expert advice.

The phrase following the science is repeated frequently in relation to government policies to address COVID-19. However, what this science might be and how it is better than other ‘sciences’ is less frequently explained. In this post, Jana Bacevic reviews the UK government’s initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak and argues that a key factor … Continued

Editorial: Social science in a time of social distancing

The spread of the Covid-19 virus has presented an unparalleled challenge for society, academia and the social sciences. As universities across the UK and the world have halted teaching activities, closed campuses and moved to online forms of working, major changes have been asked of individuals and society as a whole. As of last week, … Continued

Why social science can help us to better understand organisational change in healthcare

Lorelei Jones, Alec Fraser, and Ellen Stewart write that while the literature of large‐scale healthcare reform is dominated by competing forms of knowledge, social science in particular can offer new insights. Major changes to the way clinical services are organised keep happening, despite a lack of evidence that it improves anything. Health services research often excludes important dimensions, such as politics and emotions, in favour […]

Book Review: Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age by Matthew J. Salganik

In Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, Matthew J. Salganik explores the process of undertaking social research in the digital era, examining a wide range of concepts while also offering teaching activities and materials. In bringing together the expertise of social and data scientists to the benefit of both, this is a comprehensive overview of new approaches to social research […]

British universities excel in the social sciences. How much of their success depends on EU membership?

Some British academics have argued that the social sciences would suffer if the UK left the Union, on the grounds that the EU brings funding and enhances collaboration. But the EU’s contribution to this area is not that simple, argues David Walker. Nor is it correct to claim, as the Leave lobby has, that money currently handed to Europe could instead […]