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.

An Agent of Amelioration

An Agent of Amelioration


High hopes for impact on policy accompanied the research council’s birth: it was to be an agent of social, economic and political amelioration. The research council was intended to provide ‘policy science’, instruments for better control of individual and collective destiny. Academic suppliers of knowledge demurred, resenting requirements then and now to show ‘impact’. What are the implications for research governance if knowledge for action is inherently ‘situationist’ and contextual?

The early days were Wordsworthian. Bliss it was to be alive, but to be young … The Heyworth Committee, the Labour politicians who enacted its recommendations and the first movers and shakers in the SSRC were broadly agreed: this was about creating knowledge that would modernise and improve ...

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