Are human beings less violent than before? Why do we adopt certain moral and political judgements? Why is the gap between rich and poor getting bigger? How do we decide which criminal policies are effective? What is the Population Challenge for the 21st Century? What is social science? In Big Ideas in Social Science, David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton put these and more of our society’s burning questions to 18 of the world’s leading social scientists including Steven Pinker, Ann Oakley, Lawrence Sherman, Kate Pickett, Robert J. Shiller and Doreen Massey. The result is a collection of thought-provoking discussions that span the fields of sociology, politics, economics, criminology, geography and many more. From the people who brought us the Philosophy Bites series, Big Ideas in Social Science is a fascinating and accessible introduction to the key ideas and findings of the social sciences. The interviews for this book are based on a series of podcasts, Social Science Bites, sponsored by SAGE. Social Science Bites was inspired by the popular Philosophy Bites podcast (, which was founded by David and Nigel in 2007 and has so far had 26 million downloads. Philosophy Bites has spawned three books, Philosophy Bites, Philosophy Bites Back and Philosophy Bites Again.



Lawrence Sherman

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Lawrence Sherman is Wolfson Professor and Director of the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, and Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. He is also Honorary President of the Society of Evidence-Based Policing, a 2,000-member group of police professionals and scholars committed to applying social science research to police practices (, and Chief Executive of the Cambridge Centre for Evidence-Based Policing ( His books include Policing Domestic Violence (1992) and Evidence-Based Crime Prevention (2002).

Nigel Warburton: There are many theories about crime, its causes and treatment. So how do we decide which policies are effective? Take the case of restorative justice, ...

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