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.

Cumulative Knowledge?

Cumulative Knowledge?

SUMMARY

The official claim is that 50 years of research council spending has advanced knowledge and deepened understanding – look at the volume of output and expansion of the enterprise. But evidence of ‘cumulation’ is sketchy. Much social science knowledge is context and institution bound; it is non-linear. What relationship, if any, obtains between the onrush of knowledge and outcomes in economy and society? Deep knowledge appears to have little or no capacity to change belief.

If academics did ‘take over’, did they succeed in advancing social science? The official answer is self-evidently positive. ‘There is far deeper insight into economic issues than was possible 50 years ago’, says Sir Christopher Pissarides (Ince, 2015). Social scientists (when they think about it, which isn’t ...

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