Making a case for social science

I just came across some hastily scribbled notes I made from a crowded public debate about the future of the university last October. I thought I’d post them up here to entrench them in my memory simply because these barely legible scrawls actually encapsulate my views on this much more succinctly than I’ve managed since:

  • Offering non-instrumental accounts of the value of research
  • Avoiding rearguard action: offering a positive account
  • Making a case for control of the academy by academics (as opposed to the market, state or the managers attached to either)
  • What do the public think of social science? How can social scientists make a case for social science?
  • The public engagement activities of someone like Richard Dawkins play a huge role in fomenting public understanding and appreciation of biology. Why are social scientists failing to offer anything equivalent? Social science is potentially in a strong position for this because it’s findings can illuminate everyday aspects of personal experience in fascinating ways.
  • Recovering a more philosophical notion of research (and escaping from the false dichotomy between blue skies research and applied research) as whatever contributes to human knowledge.