The Public Value of the Social Sciences An Interpretive Essay

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-05-23
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

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John Brewer explores the essential nature of the social sciences and the ways in which notions of 'impact' and 'value' could be reframed to generate a more productive debate around their contribution to the good of society. The argument is presented in the form of an interpretive essay, thought-provoking, forward-looking, and challenging to intellectual orthodoxy. It is interspersed with boxed vignettes illustrating different interpretations of 'value' within the social sciences. The book's premise is that two threats to social science currently loom large. The first is the global university crisis, epitomized, particularly in the UK, by the audit culture in higher education. Brewer argues that this should be seen as an opportunity to empower the field by reframing it as a new form of 'public social science' with a commitment to promote the public good through teaching and research. The second perceived threat is the 'impact agenda'. Though 'impact' may be relatively easy to demonstrate the author argues it is a flawed concept in any bid to measure value. The debate needs to be moved on from the concept of 'public impact' to a more productive one of 'public value'.This book is an essential and thought-provoking contribution to a crucial contemporary debate and should be read by all researchers and teachers in the social sciences who are concerned by the future of higher education in their disciplines.

Author Biography

John D. Brewer is Professor of Post Conflict Studies in the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen's University, Belfast. He was previously Sixth-Century Professor of Sociology at Aberdeen University. He has held visiting appointments at Yale University, St John's College, Oxford, Corpus Christi College Cambridge and the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. He was, until 2012, President of the British Sociological Association and a member of the Governing Council of the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Science.

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgements
What is social science?
What is the scale and standing of British social science?
What is the threat faced by the social sciences?
What is the public value of social science?
What is the new public social science?
Conclusion: A social science for the 21st century?
Select bibliography and further reading

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