There has been much discussion about the ongoing marketisation of British academia. One of the best argued and important analyses is John Brewer’s recent book The public value of the social sciences in which he critiques against the deeply flawed redutionism of the current ‘academic impact’ agenda and puts forward a much broader ‘value’ basis for the appraisal of the social sciences. The contribution of the social sciences (as well as that of the other sciences and humanities), Brewer argues, goes far deeper than their directly measurable utility, including teaching, research and public engagement. The social sciences offer us multiple ways of understanding outselves and our societies and have a much more profound impact on society’s reproduction than the current impact assessments can measure. We fully agree with his argument which draws on the work of C. W. Mills and Michael Burawoy, for a publicly engaged and critical social science that addresses the big challenges of 21 Century societies.
(you can click on the image of the hyperlink above to go to the book’s Amazon webpage)
John D. Brewer is Professor of Post Conflict Studies in the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University, Belfast.