In June and July, the Academy and its Campaign held their first-ever Summer Programme series, covering topical and timely issues of social science significance. As we wrap up a successful season, we take a look back at the four headline events.
The programme kicked off on June 14 with a talk from John Curtice FRSA FRSE FBA FAcSS, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, Senior Research Fellow at NatCen and Senior Fellow of the ESRC’s The UK in a Changing Europe programme. Professor Curtice told a packed audience at the Academy’s headquarters in London that the EU referendum was really about the winners and losers of the process of globalisation and the ways in which UK society has been shaped by them.
Speaking just nine days before the vote, Professor Curtice said the demographics of the referendum exposed an ideological divide that cut across deeper social, political, cultural, and economic cleavages, revealing a “nation at unease with itself.”
Since June 23, the divisions exposed by the referendum have emerged as one of the most significant contributors in the decision to ultimately leave the EU.
Professor Curtice’s pre-referendum analysis was followed by a panel discussion on June 30 looking at the implications for UK social science a week after the Brexit vote.
Entitled ‘After the EU Referendum – where next for social science?’, the discussion was led by Campaign chair Professor James Wilsdon FAcSS. Panellists included Sharon Witherspoon FAcSS, Head of Policy, and Ashley Lenihan, Senior Policy Adviser, both at the Academy and Campaign; Jon Deer, Deputy Director of Research Division at LSE; Graeme Reid, Professor of Science and Research Policy at UCL, and; Antje Wiener FAcSS, Chair of Political Science at the University of Hamburg.
Sharon Witherspoon addressed the uncertainty arising from the referendum decision, saying, “The problem is we are in uncharted territory.” “It’s certain research will not be the tail wagging the dog” in all of the larger debates surrounding the UK’s negotiations with the EU, “but we must be clear about the fact that not only funding, but collaboration and leadership in research going into the future does depend on some freedom of movement.”
Following the declaration of the result on June 24, the Academy and its Campaign published a longer briefing note outlining the implications of the vote’s decision on UK social science.
Also on June 30, Professor Roger Goodman, chair of the Academy, delivered the Academy Annual lecture 2016, ‘The State of Japanese Social Science; Japanese Social Science and the State’.
In his lecture, Professor Goodman suggested a better understanding of what “really is going on in the social science community in Japan” could serve as a “way to think about some of the things that we take for granted” in the UK.
Social scientists understand the ways in which assumptions about what it means to be a person in different contexts impact policy work. The lesson to be learned for the UK from the relationship between social science and the Japanese state is to “look at how assumptions are constructed through our education system.”
Professor Linda Woodhead MBE FAcSS, a leading academic researcher and commentator and Professor of Sociology of Religion in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University and Director of the Institute of Social Futures, rounded out the Summer Programme with a lunchtime talk on July 20.
In her talk “Explaining the Rise of ‘No Religion’”, Professor Woodhead pointed to her research documenting the decline of religious identification and assessed the factors that indicate to be of no religion was becoming increasingly commonplace across society.
“The growth of no religion isn’t sudden; there has been a steady and gradual rise over a fairly long period,” she said. “I suspect it’s been taking place for at least a century or more. The question is whether it’s speeding up now.”
The Academy and Campaign would like to thank all our speakers for their insightful contributions, as well as everyone who attended and supported Summer Programme events.
An Autumn Programme will be announced shortly.
A nation at unease with itself? Britain on the eve of the EU Referendum
After the EU Referendum – where next for social science?
The state of Japanese social science; Japanese social science and the state
Explaining the rise of ‘No Religion’