London School of Economics The Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines LSE
The Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD)

Abstract for:

Expanding the Domain of Policy-Relevant Scholarship in the Social Sciences

William Julius Wilson, February 2002
Paper No' CASE 052: | Full paper (pdf)
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Keywords: social science; policy debates, research approaches

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This Paper is published under the following series: CASE Papers
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Abstract:

In this paper the author argues that social scientists need to do more to provide policy-relevant research. Rapid technological and economic change raise new issues about how policy should adjust that are not adequately addressed by older and narrower approaches. The author suggests two ways in which the domain of policy-relevant scholarship can be expanded. First, social scientists should be more flexible about the kinds of data they use and the ways they use them. Preliminary data can suggest new hypotheses, which can widen debate, and ethnographic and other qualitative methods can uncover patterns of behaviour invisible in quantitative sources. Second, social theories, concepts and ideas should play a greater role in the policy arena, shaping the way policy actors think about how the world works.