AQMeN Annual Lecture 2017 – Numbers and stories: social science, data and public engagement in a ‘post fact’ world

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Date(s) - 06/06/2017
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm

The Playfair Library


This year’s AQMeN Annual Lecture will be given by Sharon Witherspoon MBE, FAcSS, Head of Policy at The Academy of Social Science.

Some say we live in a post-fact world; certainly the appetite for pseudo-facts seems to have grown along with the internet. What is the role for social science, where many of the issues we are concerned with are contentious and seem to some merely to require good common sense? Is the sort of social science that is concerned with numbers, with understanding generalisations and complicated causality, out of tune with this world? How do we — as social scientists deploying numbers and data — engage in public debates and discussions?

In this talk, Sharon Witherspoon will argue that social science still matters, and that numbers and data are of growing importance to it. Sharon will say why ceding the ground of numbers and evidence to others is dangerous for social science, and to public policy and public understanding. But she will also argue that the opposition of numerical or statistical social science with narrative or qualitative methods is unhelpful, not least in the task of public engagement. She will end by sketching some of the challenges the social sciences need to address if they are to be play their full part for public benefit and understanding.

Professor Patrick Sturgis, Director of the National Centre for Research Methods, will be chairing the discussion following Sharon’s lecture.

Ahead of the lecture, Professor Susan McVie, will share some of the achievements and highlights from the last eight years of The Applied Quantitative Methods Network.

Come along to hear Sharon’s insightful words and celebrate with us at the reception following the lecture.

Register via Eventbrite