Sage launches social science campaign

Sage launches social science campaign

Sage has launched a transatlantic campaign with other social science bodies to raise awareness of the importance of social science research across the globe.

The publisher has rallied three key American social science bodies to help champion and voice the campaign—the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (FABBS); the Consortium for Social Science Associations (COSSA); and the American Education Research Association (AERA). Together, they will work to mobilise the social science community to voice its value more effectively. The campaign intends to lobby governments and other institutions to realise the value of social sciences with the aim of preventing funding cuts. It will also work with universities and institutions to organise events to boost awareness of what the social sciences do. 

The publisher was motivated to act following recent cuts in government funding to social sciences in the US, which Sage’s global publishing director Ziyad Marar denounced at the time as “an act of intellectual vandalism”.

The US amendment prohibited "the use of funds to carry out the functions of the Political Science Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences … except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States".

Instead, senator Tom Coburn said the money—$11m out of the total NSF pot of $7bn—would be better spent on cancer research.

Now Marar has said getting across the message of social sciences' intrinsic value to society is of key importance and its value needs to be better recognised, before the discipline's funding is threatened further.

Marar told The Bookseller: “Whilst the case for social science is being made by various groups, we at SAGE are seeing, rather unfortunately, that this message is not sufficiently resonating. In response we have recently established and funded a campaign linking together key umbrella bodies . . .to combine our forces and work together to identify current threats and to define key goals alongside ‘action alerts’ to help mobilise the social science community more effectively and get its voices heard.”

Marar said the social science discipline was of vital importance because it provided scrutiny of the fundamental aspects of human behaviour, of societies, and economies.

“They are essential to the development of healthy cultures and an educated public, and are key to addressing the many challenges the world faces, from climate change through poverty and inequality to economic growth and political development,” he said.

He added that it was “alarming” that the discipline was "under attack" in the US. However, he has conceded its importance was being recognised to some extent by the UK government, after the Parliamentary office of Science and Technology (POST) recently set up a dedicated social science section.

The section will provide parliamentarians with more access to social science research evidence and Adam Afriyie MP, chair of POST, has recognised that “social science is an exciting area of research with the potential to improve policy-making dramatically.”

Marar added: “We believe that SAGE has a key role to play in drawing together and coordinating the many strands of this debate reaching across disciplinary, organisational and geographical boundaries, and hope that through partnerships like this one we will help to ensure the public value of social science is recognised by policymakers across the globe."