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Social Science Bites

SAGE Publishing

88
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422
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Social Science Bites

Social Science Bites

SAGE Publishing

88
Followers
422
Plays
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Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists

Latest Episodes

Anne Case on Deaths of Despair

Political violence aside, the 20th century saw great progress. Looking at health progress, as one example, Princeton University economist Anne Case notes it was a century of expanding lifetimes. “Just to take one particular group,” she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “if you look at people aged 45 to 54 in the U.S., back in 1900 the death rate was 1,500 per 100,000. By the end of the century, it was down below 400 per 100,000. “The risk of dying just fell dramatically and fairly smoothly. There were a couple of spikes -- one was the 1918 flu epidemic -- and a little plateau in the 1960s when people were dying from having smoked heavily in their 20s and 30s and 40s. But people stopped smoking, there was a medical advance as antihypertensives came on the scene, and progress continued from 1970 through to the end of the century.” Even stubborn health disparities – such as the life expectancy gaps between say whites and blacks, or between the ...

19 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Anne Case on Deaths of Despair

Hetan Shah on Social Science and the Pandemic

The current pandemic has and will continue to mutate the social landscape of the world, but amid the lost lives and spoiled economies in its wake has come a new appreciation of what science and scientists contribute. “You don’t have to go back many months,” says Hetan Shah, the chief executive of the British Academy, “for a period when politicians were relatively dismissive of experts – and then suddenly we’ve seen a shift now to where they’ve moved very close to scientists. “And generally that’s a very good thing.” In this Social Science Bites podcast, Shah details how science, and social science in particular, has come to be deployed, how it’s been a force for good throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it can help policymakers understand and shape a better tomorrow. Arguably, even before coronavirus the British Academy, a national body of humanities and social science scholars, has served in similar roles. In addition to its well-known body of fellows, the academy f...

21 MINAPR 28
Comments
Hetan Shah on Social Science and the Pandemic

Ruth Wodak on How to Become a Far-Right Populist

Depending on your views, far-right populism can represent a welcome return to the past , or a worrying one. The former, argues sociolinguist Ruth Wodak in this Social Science Bites podcast, is one of the hallmarks of far-right populism – a yearning for an often mythical past where the “true people” were ascendant and comfortable. She’s termed this blurred look backward retrotopia, “a nostalgia for a past where everything was much better,” whether it was ever real or not. Wodak, who to be clear finds herself worrying and not welcoming, offers host David Edmonds a recipe for becoming a far-right populist. In her scholarship, she’s identified four ingredients, or dimensions, to the ideology that often underlie populist far-right parties. The most apparent from the outside is a strong national chauvinism or even nativism. This nativism is very exclusive to a specific set of insiders, who focus on creating “an anti-pluralist country, a country which is allegedly homogeneous, whic...

26 MINMAR 3
Comments
Ruth Wodak on How to Become a Far-Right Populist

Richard Layard on Happiness Economics

ichard Layard remembers being a history student sitting in Oxford’s Bodleian Library on a misty morning, reading philosopher Jeremy Bentham (he of the famed “It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”). As he recounts to interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, he thought, “Oh yes, this is what it’s all about.” And while much has changed for the current Baron Layard FBA in the years since that epiphany, his laser-like focus on seeing happiness as the key product of any successful society has remained. Much of his effort as a labor (and Labour) economist has gone into popularizing the idea of happiness as the real measure of national success; he’s written extensively about the concept, ranging from his 2005 book,Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, to his latest, just released this year,Can We Be Happier?(written withGeorge Ward). Layard is also co-editor, with John F. Helliwell and Jeffrey Sachs, of the...

20 MINFEB 3
Comments
Richard Layard on Happiness Economics

Susan Michie on Behavioral Change

With each new year comes a wave of good intentions as people aim to be better. They want to lose weight, exercise more, be nicer, drink less and smoke not at all. They want to change behavior, and as Susan Michie knows well, “behavior is related to absolutely everything in life.” Michie is a clinical and health psychologist who leads the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London. She specializes in behavior related to health – for behavior or health practitioners, patients and population as a whole – and in looking at how behavior impacts the natural environment. And while you might think that the essentials of human behavior are pretty similar, one of the things Michie quickly tells interviewer Dave Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast is that it can be unwise to jump to conclusions when studying behavior (or trying to change it). She notes, for example, that lots of behavioral research is done in North America, where there’s relatively abundant funding ...

20 MINJAN 7
Comments
Susan Michie on Behavioral Change

Rupert Brown on Henri Tajfel

Henri Tajfel’s early life – often awful in the living, exciting in the retelling – gave the pioneering social psychologist the fodder for his life’s defining work: understanding the roots of prejudice. Born one hundred years ago into a Jewish family in the dawn of an independent Poland created from the detritus of three disintegrated empires, he left Poland to study chemistry in France in the late 1930s. When the Germans dismembered Poland, Tajfel joins a Polish unit in the French army, and is ultimately captured by the Germans. He survived the war as a POW, even as the Nazis exterminated most of his family. “From that moment on,” his biographer Rupert Brown explains to Dave Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “one of his driving pre-occupations was to understand how could something like the Holocaust ever have happened.” After the war, Tajfel worked in orphanages in France and Belgium and then in a displaced persons camp in Germany. At this time he met, and eventu...

20 MIN2019 DEC 2
Comments
Rupert Brown on Henri Tajfel

Michele Gelfand on Social Norms

Living in a loosely regulated society, the very term “social norms” can be vaguely threatening, as if these norms are a threat to freedom always lurking on the periphery. But cultural psychologist Michele J. Gelfand says norms are not the enemy – they are one of our most important inventions. “Culture,” she says, “is this set of values, norms, and assumptions about the world that we’re socialized into from the time we’re babies. We follow social norms and we need social norms to navigate. It’s really an incredible human invention that helps us predict each other’s behavior and coordinate on large-scales on a regular basis.” That said, Gelfand definitely understands that social norms can seem threatening – or reassuring – based on your perch. That’s the basis of her substantial body of scholarship, and it’s a concept neatly encapsulated in her 2016 book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. In her work and her book, Gelfand explores ...

18 MIN2019 NOV 1
Comments
Michele Gelfand on Social Norms

Shona Minson on Children of Imprisoned Mothers

When a mother with minor children is imprisoned, she is far from the only one facing consequences. Their children can end up cared for in multiple placements, they’re often unable to attend school and they’re stigmatised. These effects on the children of the incarcerated, although predictable, have been poorly understood precisely because almost no one has done that. But Minson, who practiced both criminal and family law before entering academe, did. Following up on issues she’d seen in her work as a lawyer and after taking a master’s at the University of Surrey, she interviewed children, their caregivers and members of the Crown Court judiciary to see both how having a mom locked up affected children and how sentencing decisions that created those situations came about. Furthermore, she shared her findings with the authorities. “I didn’t realize,” she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “that academics didn’t normally try to change things....

21 MIN2019 OCT 2
Comments
Shona Minson on Children of Imprisoned Mothers

Harvey Whitehouse on Rituals

One of the most salient aspects of what generally makes a ritual a ritual is thatyou can’t tell from the actions themselves why they have to be done that way – and that fascinatesanthropologist Harvey Whitehouse. By his own admission, what intrigues the statutory chair in social anthropology and professorial fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford is that ritual is “behavior that is ‘causally opaque’ – by which I mean it has no transparent rational causal structure. “[Rituals] are that way,” he tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Space podcast, “simply because by cultural convention and general stipulation that is the done and proper way to carry out the behavior.” Rituals can range from collective events like funerals, initiations, political installations and liturgies to private acts like bedtime prayers or self-crossing before a crucial meeting. One thing that unites all of these is that they are faithfully copied and passed down through the ...

28 MIN2019 SEP 6
Comments
Harvey Whitehouse on Rituals

Kayleigh Garthwaite on Foodbanks

In the most recent 12-month period for which is has data, the Trussell Trust – the largest foodbank trust in the United Kingdom – the trust passed out 1.6 million food parcels, with 500,000 of those going to children. More than 90 percent of the food donated came from the public, often though prompts seen supermarkets, and the remaining 10 percent came from corporations. Social scientist Kayleigh Garthwaite wanted to know more about the people behind those figures. Spurred on by numbers cited by politicians in a debate over foodbanks, she wondered, “What was it like for people to go to the foodbank? Why did they go there? Was there any stigma or shame? “I think the debate about why people use the foodbanks has become really politicized to the point where apparently individual faults and failings are the reason why people are using them,” tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. To find out, Garthwaite engaged in some immersive sociology and voluntee...

17 MIN2019 AUG 1
Comments
Kayleigh Garthwaite on Foodbanks

Latest Episodes

Anne Case on Deaths of Despair

Political violence aside, the 20th century saw great progress. Looking at health progress, as one example, Princeton University economist Anne Case notes it was a century of expanding lifetimes. “Just to take one particular group,” she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “if you look at people aged 45 to 54 in the U.S., back in 1900 the death rate was 1,500 per 100,000. By the end of the century, it was down below 400 per 100,000. “The risk of dying just fell dramatically and fairly smoothly. There were a couple of spikes -- one was the 1918 flu epidemic -- and a little plateau in the 1960s when people were dying from having smoked heavily in their 20s and 30s and 40s. But people stopped smoking, there was a medical advance as antihypertensives came on the scene, and progress continued from 1970 through to the end of the century.” Even stubborn health disparities – such as the life expectancy gaps between say whites and blacks, or between the ...

19 MIN3 w ago
Comments
Anne Case on Deaths of Despair

Hetan Shah on Social Science and the Pandemic

The current pandemic has and will continue to mutate the social landscape of the world, but amid the lost lives and spoiled economies in its wake has come a new appreciation of what science and scientists contribute. “You don’t have to go back many months,” says Hetan Shah, the chief executive of the British Academy, “for a period when politicians were relatively dismissive of experts – and then suddenly we’ve seen a shift now to where they’ve moved very close to scientists. “And generally that’s a very good thing.” In this Social Science Bites podcast, Shah details how science, and social science in particular, has come to be deployed, how it’s been a force for good throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it can help policymakers understand and shape a better tomorrow. Arguably, even before coronavirus the British Academy, a national body of humanities and social science scholars, has served in similar roles. In addition to its well-known body of fellows, the academy f...

21 MINAPR 28
Comments
Hetan Shah on Social Science and the Pandemic

Ruth Wodak on How to Become a Far-Right Populist

Depending on your views, far-right populism can represent a welcome return to the past , or a worrying one. The former, argues sociolinguist Ruth Wodak in this Social Science Bites podcast, is one of the hallmarks of far-right populism – a yearning for an often mythical past where the “true people” were ascendant and comfortable. She’s termed this blurred look backward retrotopia, “a nostalgia for a past where everything was much better,” whether it was ever real or not. Wodak, who to be clear finds herself worrying and not welcoming, offers host David Edmonds a recipe for becoming a far-right populist. In her scholarship, she’s identified four ingredients, or dimensions, to the ideology that often underlie populist far-right parties. The most apparent from the outside is a strong national chauvinism or even nativism. This nativism is very exclusive to a specific set of insiders, who focus on creating “an anti-pluralist country, a country which is allegedly homogeneous, whic...

26 MINMAR 3
Comments
Ruth Wodak on How to Become a Far-Right Populist

Richard Layard on Happiness Economics

ichard Layard remembers being a history student sitting in Oxford’s Bodleian Library on a misty morning, reading philosopher Jeremy Bentham (he of the famed “It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong”). As he recounts to interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, he thought, “Oh yes, this is what it’s all about.” And while much has changed for the current Baron Layard FBA in the years since that epiphany, his laser-like focus on seeing happiness as the key product of any successful society has remained. Much of his effort as a labor (and Labour) economist has gone into popularizing the idea of happiness as the real measure of national success; he’s written extensively about the concept, ranging from his 2005 book,Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, to his latest, just released this year,Can We Be Happier?(written withGeorge Ward). Layard is also co-editor, with John F. Helliwell and Jeffrey Sachs, of the...

20 MINFEB 3
Comments
Richard Layard on Happiness Economics

Susan Michie on Behavioral Change

With each new year comes a wave of good intentions as people aim to be better. They want to lose weight, exercise more, be nicer, drink less and smoke not at all. They want to change behavior, and as Susan Michie knows well, “behavior is related to absolutely everything in life.” Michie is a clinical and health psychologist who leads the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London. She specializes in behavior related to health – for behavior or health practitioners, patients and population as a whole – and in looking at how behavior impacts the natural environment. And while you might think that the essentials of human behavior are pretty similar, one of the things Michie quickly tells interviewer Dave Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast is that it can be unwise to jump to conclusions when studying behavior (or trying to change it). She notes, for example, that lots of behavioral research is done in North America, where there’s relatively abundant funding ...

20 MINJAN 7
Comments
Susan Michie on Behavioral Change

Rupert Brown on Henri Tajfel

Henri Tajfel’s early life – often awful in the living, exciting in the retelling – gave the pioneering social psychologist the fodder for his life’s defining work: understanding the roots of prejudice. Born one hundred years ago into a Jewish family in the dawn of an independent Poland created from the detritus of three disintegrated empires, he left Poland to study chemistry in France in the late 1930s. When the Germans dismembered Poland, Tajfel joins a Polish unit in the French army, and is ultimately captured by the Germans. He survived the war as a POW, even as the Nazis exterminated most of his family. “From that moment on,” his biographer Rupert Brown explains to Dave Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “one of his driving pre-occupations was to understand how could something like the Holocaust ever have happened.” After the war, Tajfel worked in orphanages in France and Belgium and then in a displaced persons camp in Germany. At this time he met, and eventu...

20 MIN2019 DEC 2
Comments
Rupert Brown on Henri Tajfel

Michele Gelfand on Social Norms

Living in a loosely regulated society, the very term “social norms” can be vaguely threatening, as if these norms are a threat to freedom always lurking on the periphery. But cultural psychologist Michele J. Gelfand says norms are not the enemy – they are one of our most important inventions. “Culture,” she says, “is this set of values, norms, and assumptions about the world that we’re socialized into from the time we’re babies. We follow social norms and we need social norms to navigate. It’s really an incredible human invention that helps us predict each other’s behavior and coordinate on large-scales on a regular basis.” That said, Gelfand definitely understands that social norms can seem threatening – or reassuring – based on your perch. That’s the basis of her substantial body of scholarship, and it’s a concept neatly encapsulated in her 2016 book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. In her work and her book, Gelfand explores ...

18 MIN2019 NOV 1
Comments
Michele Gelfand on Social Norms

Shona Minson on Children of Imprisoned Mothers

When a mother with minor children is imprisoned, she is far from the only one facing consequences. Their children can end up cared for in multiple placements, they’re often unable to attend school and they’re stigmatised. These effects on the children of the incarcerated, although predictable, have been poorly understood precisely because almost no one has done that. But Minson, who practiced both criminal and family law before entering academe, did. Following up on issues she’d seen in her work as a lawyer and after taking a master’s at the University of Surrey, she interviewed children, their caregivers and members of the Crown Court judiciary to see both how having a mom locked up affected children and how sentencing decisions that created those situations came about. Furthermore, she shared her findings with the authorities. “I didn’t realize,” she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “that academics didn’t normally try to change things....

21 MIN2019 OCT 2
Comments
Shona Minson on Children of Imprisoned Mothers

Harvey Whitehouse on Rituals

One of the most salient aspects of what generally makes a ritual a ritual is thatyou can’t tell from the actions themselves why they have to be done that way – and that fascinatesanthropologist Harvey Whitehouse. By his own admission, what intrigues the statutory chair in social anthropology and professorial fellow of Magdalen College, University of Oxford is that ritual is “behavior that is ‘causally opaque’ – by which I mean it has no transparent rational causal structure. “[Rituals] are that way,” he tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Space podcast, “simply because by cultural convention and general stipulation that is the done and proper way to carry out the behavior.” Rituals can range from collective events like funerals, initiations, political installations and liturgies to private acts like bedtime prayers or self-crossing before a crucial meeting. One thing that unites all of these is that they are faithfully copied and passed down through the ...

28 MIN2019 SEP 6
Comments
Harvey Whitehouse on Rituals

Kayleigh Garthwaite on Foodbanks

In the most recent 12-month period for which is has data, the Trussell Trust – the largest foodbank trust in the United Kingdom – the trust passed out 1.6 million food parcels, with 500,000 of those going to children. More than 90 percent of the food donated came from the public, often though prompts seen supermarkets, and the remaining 10 percent came from corporations. Social scientist Kayleigh Garthwaite wanted to know more about the people behind those figures. Spurred on by numbers cited by politicians in a debate over foodbanks, she wondered, “What was it like for people to go to the foodbank? Why did they go there? Was there any stigma or shame? “I think the debate about why people use the foodbanks has become really politicized to the point where apparently individual faults and failings are the reason why people are using them,” tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. To find out, Garthwaite engaged in some immersive sociology and voluntee...

17 MIN2019 AUG 1
Comments
Kayleigh Garthwaite on Foodbanks
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