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.

Ashley Mears

Ashley Mears on the Global Party Circuit

Ashley Mears describes modern jet-setting club life at the VIP level and the Veblen-esque conspicuous consumption, its “ritualized squandering” in Mears words, that is its hallmark.

12 months ago
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Anne Case on Deaths of Despair

Economist Anne Case didn’t believe her eyes when she first identified the trend of what came to be called ‘deaths of despair’: looking at figures from the 1990s to the most recent data available from 2018, mortality among middle-aged, non-college-educated white Americans rose, stalled, then rose again.

1 year ago
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Hetan Shah on Social Science and the Pandemic

“You don’t have to go back many months,” says Hetan Shah, the chief executive of the British Academy, in this Social Science Bites podcast, “for a period when politicians were relatively dismissive of experts – and then suddenly we’ve seen a shift now to where they’ve moved very close to scientists. And generally that’s a very good thing.”

1 year ago
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Ruth Wodak on How to Become a Far-Right Populist

Depending on your views, far-right populism can represent a welcome return to the past , or a worrying one. The former, argues sociolinguist Ruth Wodak in this Social Science Bites podcast, is one of the hallmarks of far-right populism – a yearning for an often mythical past where the “true people” were ascendant and comfortable.

1 year ago
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Richard Layard

Richard Layard on Happiness Economics

Richard Layard remembers being a history student sitting in Oxford’s Bodleian Library on a misty morning, reading philosopher Jeremy Bentham (he of the famed “It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”). As he recounts to interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, he thought, “Oh yes, this is what it’s all about.”

1 year ago
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Susan Michie on Behavioral Change

While you might think that the essentials of human behavior are pretty similar, one of the things Michie quickly tells interviewer Dave Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast is that it can be unwise to jump to conclusions when studying behavior (or trying to change it).

1 year ago
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Henri Tajfel

Rupert Brown on Henri Tajfel

Rupert Brown, the biographer of Henri Tajfel, talks about the pioneering explorer of prejudice in this Social Science Bites podcast. Brown reviews the roots of Tajfel’s research arising from the Holocaust, and the current repercussions of Tajfel’s personal misdeeds.

1 year ago
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Michele Gelfand on Social Norms

“Social norms are the glue,” cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “that keep people together.” How much glue do we need? Gelfand describes the “simple tradeoff” between tight and loose cultures: tight opts for more order while loose aims for openness,

2 years ago
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Harvey Whitehouse on Rituals

One of the most salient aspects of what generally makes a ritual a ritual is that the action itself is divorced from real life or its real life roots – and that fascinates anthropologist Harvey Whitehouse. By his own admission, what intrigues the latest guest in the Social Science Bites podcast series is that ritual is “behavior that is ‘causally opaque.’

2 years ago
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Kayleigh Garthwaite on Foodbanks

“I think the debate about why people use the foodbanks has become really politicized to the point where apparently individual faults and failings are the reason why people are using them,” Kayleigh Garthwaite tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. To find out, she volunteered to work at a Trussell Trust foodbank in northern England’s city of Stockton, deploying ethnographic methods to learn from the workers and the food recipients.

2 years ago
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Jonathan Portes on the Economics of Immigration

Britain’s former chief economist knows a thing or two about the impact of immigration on native Britons. In this Social Science Bites podcast, he reviews what data can tell us about the UK’s current heavy inflow — such as that new arrivals create both supply AND demand.

2 years ago
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