Social Science Bites

Welcome to the blog for the Social Science Bites podcast: a series of interviews with leading Social Scientists. Each episode explores an aspect of our social world. You can access all audio and the transcripts from each interview here. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @socialscibites to keep up to date on the latest activities.

Gina Neff on Smart Devices

Gina Neff doesn’t approach smart devices as a Luddite or even that much of an alarmist; she bought first-generation Fitbit when they were brand new and virtually unknown (all of five years ago!). She approaches them as a sociologist, “looking at the practices of people who use digital devices to monitor, map and measure different aspects of their life.”

1 year ago
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Les Back on Migrants

Reflecting on his new book Migrant City, Goldsmiths sociologist Les Back tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, co-author and co-researcher Shamser Sinha and Back learned their work was “not really just a migrants’ story; it’s the story of London but told through and eyes, ears and attentiveness of 30 adult migrants from all corners of the world.”

1 year ago
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David Halpern on Nudging

In this Social Science Bites podcast, experimental psychologist David Halpern, the British Nudge Unit’s chief executive, offers interviewer David Edmonds a quick primer on nudging, examples of nudges that worked (and one that didn’t), how nudging differs between the UK and the United States, and the interface of applied nudging and academic behavioral science.

1 year ago
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James Robinson

James Robinson on Why Nations Fail

Metrics on the average living standards from the best-off countries in the world (say, Norway) to the worst-off (such as the Central African Republic) vary by a factor of 40 to 50. So notes James Robinson

1 year ago
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Nick Adams

Nick Adams on Textual Analysis

Fake news, whether truly phony or merely unpalatable, has become an inescapable trope for modern media consumers. But apart from its propagandist provenance, misinformation and disinformation in our media diets is a genuine threat. Sociologist Nick Adams, in this Social Science Bites podcast, offers hope that a tool he’s developed can improve the media literacy of the populace.

1 year ago
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Andrew Leigh

Andrew Leigh on Randomistas

When Angus Deaton crafted the term ‘randomista’ to denigrate the rampant use of randomized controlled trials in development economics, Angus Leigh saw an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. In this Social Science Bites podcasts he explains how he turned randomista into a compliment and promotes the use of trials to improve social programs worldwide.

2 years ago
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Diane Reay

Diane Reay on Education and Class

One thing has become clear to sociologist Diane Reay across her research – “It’s primarily working-class children who turn out to be losers in the educational system.” Whether it’s through the worst-funded schools, least-qualified teachers, most-temporary teaching arrangements or narrowest curricula, students from working class backgrounds in the United Kingdom (and the United States) draw the shortest educational straws.

2 years ago
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MAHZARIN BANAJI

Mahzarin Banaji on Implicit Bias

“The brain is an association-seeking machine,” Harvard social psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. “It puts things together that repeatedly get paired in our experience. Implicit bias is just another word for capturing what those are when they concern social groups.

2 years ago
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Richard Wilkinson

Richard Wilkinson on How Inequality is Bad

In this Social Science Bites podcast, social epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson lays out the case that inequality should be fought specifically because it fosters a litany of ill effects.

2 years ago
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Celia Heyes

Celia Heyes on Cognitive Gadgets

How did humans diverge so markedly from animals? Apart from physical things like our “physical peculiarities,” as experimental psychologist Celia Heyes puts it, or our fine motor control, there’s something even more fundamentally – and cognitively — different. hear more in our newest Social Science Bites podcast.

2 years ago
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Alison Liebling

Alison Liebling on Successful Prisons

In determining what makes a successful prison, where would you place ‘trust’? Alison Liebling, director of the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology’s Prisons Research Centre, would place it at the top spot. As she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, she believes what makes a prison good is the existence and the practice of trust.

2 years ago
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David Spiegelhalter

David Spiegelhalter on Communicating Statistics

While they aren’t as unpopular as politicians or journalists, people who work with statistics come in for their share of abuse. “Figures lie and liars figure,” goes one maxim. And don’t forget, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” But some people are the good guys, doing their best to combat the flawed or dishonest use of numbers. One of those good guys is the guest of this Social Science Bites podcast, David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk at Cambridge and current president of the Royal Statistical Society.

2 years ago
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