What is the role of the state in distributing research money? How do ‘arm’s-length’ funding agencies relate to public policy and business? This original study looks at the main social science funding agency in the UK, which was established 50 years ago. It examines how funding decisions are related to power. The ‘critical’ and ‘policy’ aspects of successful research bids are discussed. Walker asks the tricky question, why has social science research not achieved a more salient role in state policy formation and management strategy: is the funding agency responsible? Insightful, engrossing and highly original, the book will be required reading for anyone who has written or will write a Social Science research bid and, more widely, for students of power, knowledge and culture.

Reprieve and Normalisation

Reprieve and Normalisation

SUMMARY

Rebranded, the ESRC nestled into the research council system while cleverly adapting to new government emphases on utility – the ‘priorities’ assumed by the council were far from onerous or injurious to academic autonomy. But assimilation to ‘science’ further emphasised the council’s distance from policy making under both the Major and Blair governments and the parochialism of UK social science in wider debates about the domain’s future.

After the climacteric, the research council took a new name, slimmed administration and, after one or two hiccups, fell in with the Thatcher government’s sketchy and limited plans for decentralising Whitehall. It was a kind of resurrection, and credit must be given to the Essex University specialist on rural labour, Howard Newby who ...

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