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.



Gregory Clark

Image 14

Gregory Clark is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Davis. His research interests lie in long-run economic growth, and in particular the degree to which demographic processes in the pre-industrial world continue to influence social life in modern societies.

Nigel Warburton: What’s in a name? Well, according to Gregory Clark, quite a lot. Surnames predict social position with remarkable accuracy. Social mobility follows universal patterns, and surprisingly only usually occurs very gradually over a number of generations. Why this should be so is an intriguing question, as is the question of whether it’s something we should worry about.

David Edmonds: Today we’re talking about names. That’s an odd topic. How did you ...

locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles