Quantitative Methods And The Social Sciences

From Professor Rick Rylance in The Independent:

We need a new generation of social scientists who have the skills to work in any domain they choose, and the innovations in undergraduate teaching will push through into postgraduate training and thus open up new horizons.

Quantitive methods make possible large-scale social studies such as Understanding Society, which published its first findings earlier this year. Funded by the ESRC, and run by the Institute for Social and Economic Research( ISER), it offers an unprecedented insight into 40,000 UK households as they respond to regional, national and international change. It follows individuals overtime, regularly collecting data about participants.

It will provide a unique and enduring portrait of 21stcentury British society for generations to come. Understanding Society is just one area of groundbreaking research currently taking place in UK universities.

Here’s the link to Understanding Society:

Understanding Society is a world leading study of the socio-economic circumstances and attitudes of 100,000 individuals in 40,000 British households.

It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and run by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). The study allows for deeper analysis of a wide range of sections of the population as they respond to regional, national and international change. Understanding Society will greatly enhance our insight into the pathways that influence peoples longer term occupational trajectories; their health and well-being, their financial circumstances and personal relationships.

Understanding Society also breaks new ground with its interdisciplinary focus. The study will capture biomedical data on 20,000 participants and place this alongside rich social histories, helping us weigh the extent to which people’s environment influences their health.

It’s a focus of Big Ideas For The Future, a new report from RCUK and Universities UK that will be released as part of Universities Week (13 to 19 June).

The report focuses on a variety of research because if we are to tackle future challenges, we need to be able to apply a broad mix of the physical, natural, biological, medical and social sciences, as well as engineering and the arts and humanities.

The research being worked on in UK universities, as showcased by Big Ideas For The Future, will have a profound impact on our lives and the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK, and quantitive methods-trained social scientists will have an exciting part to play in it.

As an aside, the interesting issue of developing interdisciplinary mindsets (as compared to approaches) for research projects is discussed here.

Picture credit here.

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