Do we need to shake up the social sciences?

In July 2013 Nicholas Christakis, sociologist and physician, published a provocative opinion piece in the New York Times arguing for the need to shake up the social sciences. We’ve blogged about it in the past and Christakis certainly provoked a lot of discussion with the case he made. The LSE recently ran a panel discussion exploring these themes when he visited the UK  (link) and we’ve attached the podcast and information about the event below:

Speaker(s): Professor Nicholas Christakis, Professor Patrick Dunleavy, Dr Amanda Goodall, Professor Andrew Oswald
Chair: Siobhan Benita

Recorded on 21 October 2014 in Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building.

‘Yes’, according to Nicholas Christakis. He wrote, in the New York Times, ‘Taking a page from Darwin, the natural sciences are evolving with the times. In contrast, the social sciences have stagnated. They offer essentially the same set of academic departments … This is not only boring but also counterproductive …’ Is Christakis right? In this event, physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis, political scientist Patrick Dunleavy, management scientist Amanda Goodall and economist Andrew Oswald will debate this question, and then join a discussion on the issue with policy and strategy officer Siobhan Benita.

Nicholas Christakis (@NAChristakis) is the Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University.

Patrick Dunleavy (@PJDunleavy) is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at LSE.

Amanda Goodall (@AmandaGoodall1) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management at the Cass Business School.

Andrew Oswald is Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick.

Siobhan Benita (@SiobhanBenita) is Chief Policy and Strategy Officer in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick and Co-director of Warwick Policy Lab (WPL).

The Forum for European Philosophy (@LSEPhilosophy) is an educational charity which organises and runs a full and varied programme of philosophy and interdisciplinary events in the UK.

Call for contributions: Power, Acceleration and Metrics in Academic Life

There is little doubt that science and knowledge production are presently undergoing dramatic and multi-layered transformations accompanied by new imperatives reflecting broader socio-economic and technological developments. The unprecedented proliferation of audit cultures preoccupied with digitally mediated measurement and quantification of scholarship and the consolidation of business-driven managerialism and governance modes are commonplace in the contemporary academy. Concurrently, the ever-increasing rate of institutional change, (the need for) intensification of scientific and scholarly production/communication and diverse academic processes seem to characterize the overall acceleration of academic life (i.e., in many disciplines the new maxim ‘patent and prosper’ (Schachman) supplements the traditional ‘publish or perish’). Quantification and metrics have emerged not only as navigating instruments paradoxically exacerbating the general dynamization of academic life but also as barely questioned proxies for scientific quality, career progression and job prospects, and as parameters redrawing what it means to be/work as a scholar nowadays (i.e., the shifting parameters and patterns of academic subjectivity). Metrification now seems to be an important interface between labour and surveillance within academic life, with manifold affective implications.

This workshop will inquire into the techniques of auditing and their attendant practices and effects and will also probe into scholars’ complicity in reproduction of such practices. It will consider processes of social acceleration within the academy and their implications for the management of everyday activity by those working within it. This will include:

• empirical and theoretical engagements with the acceleration of higher education
• the origins of metrification of higher education
• metrification as a form of social control
• the challenges of self-management posed by metrification and/or acceleration
• common strategic responses to these challenges
• the relationship between metrification and acceleration
• how metrification and acceleration relate to a broader social crisis

The workshop will take place in December 2015 in Prague. At present, we’re seeking to clarify the level of interest before determining the length of the event, fixing a date and inviting keynote speakers. Please send expressions of interest – a biographical note and brief description of interest in the topic – to [email protected] and [email protected]deadline January 31st 2015.


Hosted by Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic the event will take place in Vila Lanna, V Sadech 1, 160 00, Prague 6, Czech Republic (


Air: From Vaclav Havel Airport Prague take the bus no 119 to Dejvicka (which is the terminal stop). Vila Lanna is 5-6min walk from there.

Train: From Main Railway Station (Praha hlavni nadrazi, often abbreviated Praha hl. n), take metro line C (red), change at Muzeum for line A (green) and get off at the terminal stop Dejvicka. Vila Lanna is 5-6min walk from there.

Queerly Theorising Higher Education & Academia: Symposium Registratio

Queerly Theorising Higher Education & Academia: Interdisciplinary Conversations

Half-day International Symposium

Monday 8th December 2014, 12 noon – 7:30pm, followed by a drinks reception

Room 802, Institute of Education (IOE), 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

This half-day international symposium brings together queer theorisations of higher education and academia that are currently developing within discipline-specific contexts. At this symposium, we will explore the ways that academia and higher education are being queerly theorised, and discuss how these theorisations are situated within and yet pushing against disciplinary settings. With an emphasis on conversation and discussion, the event will provide a platform for the collaborative development of ideas over the course of the day. Contributors to the round table and discussion-presentations range from established scholars to doctoral students, and are from a variety of disciplinary locations and institutional settings.

Round table participants:

Oliver Davis – University of Warwick

Michael O’Rourke – ISSH, Macedonia & Global Center for Advanced Studies

Nick Rumens – Middlesex University

Yvette Taylor – Weeks Centre, London South Bank University

Kathryn Medien – University of Warwick (Chair)


James Burford – University of Auckland, New Zealand/Aotearoa

Jennifer Fraser – Birkbeck

Vicky Gunn – University of Glasgow

Emily F. Henderson – Institute of Education

Genine Hook – Monash University, Australia

Z Nicolazzo – Miami University, Ohio, US

Sean Curran – Institute of Education (Chair)

Emma Jones – Institute of Education (Chair)


Elliot Evans – King’s College London


The event will be hosted by CHES (Centre for Higher Education Studies) and is funded by the Bloomsbury ESRC Doctoral Training Centre.

Registration is free, but places are limited so booking is essential.

To book, or for further information, contact Emily Henderson:[email protected]

Guides to innovative and creative research methods

Here’s another great resource from the Morgan Centre at the University of Manchester. They’ve produced toolkits for a wide range of innovative and creative research methods. Here are some of the ones we thought looked most interesting. The full list is online here.

Toolkit 18: Using diaries
Ruth Bartlett (University of Southampton) December 2011

Toolkit 17: Using participatory visual methods
Naomi Richards (University of Sheffield) November 2011

Toolkit 16: Using self-interviews
Nicola Allett, Emily Keightley and Michael Pickering (Loughborough University) October 2011

Toolkit 13: Using walking interviews
Andrew Clark (University of Salford) and Nick Emmel (University of Leeds), August 2011

Toolkit 10: Using blog analysis
Helene Snee, The University of Manchester, July 2010

Toolkit 09: Using email interviews
Lucy Gibson, The University of Manchester, June 2010

Toolkit 03: Participatory mapping: An innovative sociological method *
Nick Emmel, University of Leeds, July 2008


Lots of podcasts on methods and methodology

The National Centre for Research Methods has a fantastic selection of podcasts on their website. Here are some of the ones we thought looked most interesting:

However there’s a lot more. See here for the full list.