Robert Dingwall

Robert Dingwall is a consulting sociologist, providing research and advisory services particularly in relation to organizational strategy, public engagement and knowledge transfer. He is co-editor of the SAGE Handbook of Research Management.

Our Plan to Rebuild Graphic

Coronavirus UK – Understanding the UK Government’s Policy on COVID-19

The UK government has regularly been denounced by many in the public health community for its absence of strategy in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this criticism, however, reflects a simple dislike of the strategy or of the government that has authored it. On closer inspection, the UK government does have an intellectually coherent position – just one that is different from that preferred by many public health specialists and activists, and, to some extent, the biomedical community in general.

7 days ago
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Bubonic plague in Europe

COVID-19 UK: How Do Pandemics Come to an End?

In the midst of the present chaos, it is easy to forget that the world has had pandemics before and that they have come to an end. Can we learn anything from these experiences that might help us in dealing with COVID-19?

1 month ago
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Coronavirus UK – Models or Crystal Balls?

As far back as we have records, humans have tried to predict the future. Some societies turned to prayer, divination or oracles. Others to tarot cards or crystal balls. In the modern world, much of that function is fulfilled by mathematical models. Is this new technology of forecasting really an upgrade?

3 months ago
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empty classroom

Coronavirus UK – Why Closing Schools is (Generally) a Bad Idea

School closures are widely seen as a quick fix for COVID-19 transmission. The UK government’s resistance to this measure has provoked considerable concern, including a petition to Parliament that has gathered over a half-million signatures at the time of writing. In practice, argues Robert Dingwall, the effects would mainly be risky for children and the consequences would other institutions’ efforts to work as normally as possible.

4 months ago
1909
Working on laptop on couch

Coronavirus UK: Self-Isolation Must Not Mean Self-Imprisonment

The United Kingdom’s reputed the self-isolation proposal, and its attendant controversy about the alleged influence of social and behavioral scientists on the government’s approach, is a nice indicator of how limited the social science influence actually is – and why it needs to be greater.

4 months ago
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Dickens’s Heart of Darkness – Not Your Muppet Christmas Carol

If you missed the broadcast of the new BBC/FX version of A Christmas Carol, it is well worth tracking down on a streaming service. While the production is occasionally bonkers, it brilliantly captures Charles Dickens’s passionate anger about social injustice in Victorian Britain.

6 months ago
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Research on Research

With the advent of the new Research on Research Institute, our Robert Dingwall notes that while research on research fills a gap in the world of knowledge. However, it is important not to confuse it with the research enterprise itself or to assume that this will benefit from being made so planned, rational and evidence-based that the result is to squeeze innovation out of the system.

9 months ago
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Presenting at academic conference

The Academic Conference – and its Discontents

Individuals find it harder to cover conference costs – and departments or research groups have fewer resources to support them. It is not hard to see why there is a sense of grievance. On the other hand, it is not so easy to see what can be done.

10 months ago
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Social Precognition and Sociology: The Case of Resistentialism and ANT

In the last 20 years or so there has been much excitement, particularly in science and technology studies, about Actor-Network Theory. One of its most distinctive features is the way in which it ascribes agency to material objects. Perhaps we should not be crediting Bruno Latour or Michel Callon with the original insight – but an English humourist, Paul Jennings.

11 months ago
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