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Help ESRC Find the 50 Biggest Social Science Achievements

September 23, 2014 1741

Help us find the 50 biggest social science achievements – send in your suggestions!

In 2015 the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council, or ESRC, will be celebrating 50 years of funding research in economic and social issues. Over the last five decades ESRC research has helped change the world, providing deep insights into key social and economic questions. From big ideas to the most detailed observations, social science affects us all every day – at work, in school or college, within our communities, when exploring our identities and expressing our beliefs.

ESRC Logo“The social sciences are essential to understanding human behaviour, the wellbeing of citizens and promoting sustainable growth. Social science research generates vital knowledge that informs policy, helping us navigate our way through the world as individuals and as a society,” as David Willets MP, former Secretary of State for Universities and Science, has put it.

For example, it was an economist who came up with the idea of the National Health Service. And in the auction of radio bandwidth for 3G mobile phone licenses in 2000, advice from ESRC-funded researchers on how to run the auction raised £22.5 billion for the government – enough money to build 400 new hospitals.

The UK also runs a unique set of ‘longitudinal’ studies – tracking large groups of people through their lives in order to gather data on life circumstances, income, health, employment and other factors. These surveys provide invaluable data for research on a range of issues, their causes, and the effectiveness of different policies.

On an international scale, recent research into innovative methods for measuring poverty has helped the governments of Bhutan, Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines to track poverty and improve poverty eradication efforts.

To celebrate how social science has contributed to society and to mark ESRC’s 50th anniversary we need your help to identify the major social science achievements over the last five decades – in the UK or abroad. Tell us about the groundbreaking pieces of research, the crucial data resources underpinning major policies, the cases where social science changed society. All contributions are gratefully received – so please submit your suggestions on our online form HERE.


Arild Foss is the digital communications manager for the Economic and Social Research Council.

View all posts by Arild Foss

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