The Campaign for Social Science (CfSS) has called for greater investment in its field, arguing that the UK's growth and prosperity will falter without a better understanding of social science disciplines.
In a report, "The Business of People: The Significance of Social Science over the Next Decade", published by SAGE today (24th February), the CfSS said: "The challenges facing the UK – its prosperity and functioning as a place for trade, creativity, exchange equity and opportunity – will be met only if we deploy social science knowledge, skills and methods of inquiry ever more intensively. To thrive we must innovate. In innovation, we must marry progress in technology and the physical and life sciences with insights from studying behaviour, place, economy and society….
"Advancing and applying science depend on profits, policies, markets, organisations and attitudes. These are social science themes."
The report argues for an increase of 10% in real terms for the £4.7bn annual budget for science and innovation in the next government, dedicated to interdisciplinary research, with government strategy recognising the contribution of social science "more explicitly", and the Economic and Social Research Council's share of the budget "better reflecting its value for money, support for excellence and promotion of impact, as attested by the 2014 REF results". The CfSS also called for a new senior Whitehall social science adviser to work alongside the government's chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport.
Other measures demanded in the report include funding initiatives to support interdisciplinary ways of working for scientific research and fair access to the social sciences in student loans for taught masters' degrees.
SAGE global publishing director Ziyad Marar, a CfSS board member, said: "This initiative makes a tremendous contribution to the debate around the value of social science which needs to be highlighted ahead of the General Election and subsequent Autumn Spending Review. The impact of social science research is often misunderstood or narrowly construed and 'The Business of People' will be pivotal in helping to ensure that the true significance of social science is widely understood. We at SAGE are delighted to have worked so closely with the Campaign to publish this timely report, and on a personal front, I was proud to be part of the working group involved in its drafting."
James Wilsdon, CfSS chair, added: "The voices of social scientists are often narrowly heard and it is the Campaign's mission to ensure that we speak up for the social sciences, especially ahead of the election."
The Campaign was set up in 2011 by the Academy of Social Sciences to raise the profile of social science in the eyes of the public, as well as with the media and in parliament. Board members include Dr Jacqui Briggs, head of the school of social and political sciences at the university of Lincoln, and Professor Patrick Dunleavy, professor of political science and public policy chair at the London School of Economics.