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Where Lesser Angels Might Have Feared to Tread: The Social Science Research Council and Transmitted Deprivation

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Where Lesser Angels Might Have Feared to Tread: The Social Science Research Council and Transmitted Deprivation. / Welshman, John.

In: Contemporary British History, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2009, p. 199-219.

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@article{d3144076b53d433b82037906d52c397e,
title = "Where Lesser Angels Might Have Feared to Tread: The Social Science Research Council and Transmitted Deprivation",
abstract = "The histories of the relationship between government policy and the direction of social science research, and of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), have begun to attract attention in recent years. In this work, the SSRC's research programme on transmitted deprivation (1974–82) has generally had a minor role. Most often, it has been argued that it was the disappointment of Sir Keith Joseph with the research programme that fuelled his contempt for social science and his attempt, as Secretary of State for Education and Science, to abolish the Research Council. However, while the programme has recently been investigated in relation to other themes, the significance of the SSRC's involvement has neither been fully drawn out, nor integrated with the broader secondary literature on the history of social science research. The argument of this paper is that there is very little hard evidence that it was Joseph's dissatisfaction with the research programme that led to his attack on the SSRC. More interesting is the way the episode provides insights into the SSRC and the outlook of a generation of social scientists. The Research Council took the programme on for political reasons, it remained embarrassed about its ideological origins and it faced difficulties in promoting multidisciplinary research. Thus, this study shows the problems that can emerge when social scientists engage in research commissioned by their political masters.",
keywords = "Deprivation, ESRC , Keith Joseph , Social Science , SSRC , Transmitted",
author = "John Welshman",
year = "2009",
doi = "10.1080/13619460802636425",
language = "English",
volume = "23",
pages = "199--219",
journal = "Contemporary British History",
issn = "1361-9462",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Where Lesser Angels Might Have Feared to Tread: The Social Science Research Council and Transmitted Deprivation

AU - Welshman, John

PY - 2009

Y1 - 2009

N2 - The histories of the relationship between government policy and the direction of social science research, and of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), have begun to attract attention in recent years. In this work, the SSRC's research programme on transmitted deprivation (1974–82) has generally had a minor role. Most often, it has been argued that it was the disappointment of Sir Keith Joseph with the research programme that fuelled his contempt for social science and his attempt, as Secretary of State for Education and Science, to abolish the Research Council. However, while the programme has recently been investigated in relation to other themes, the significance of the SSRC's involvement has neither been fully drawn out, nor integrated with the broader secondary literature on the history of social science research. The argument of this paper is that there is very little hard evidence that it was Joseph's dissatisfaction with the research programme that led to his attack on the SSRC. More interesting is the way the episode provides insights into the SSRC and the outlook of a generation of social scientists. The Research Council took the programme on for political reasons, it remained embarrassed about its ideological origins and it faced difficulties in promoting multidisciplinary research. Thus, this study shows the problems that can emerge when social scientists engage in research commissioned by their political masters.

AB - The histories of the relationship between government policy and the direction of social science research, and of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), have begun to attract attention in recent years. In this work, the SSRC's research programme on transmitted deprivation (1974–82) has generally had a minor role. Most often, it has been argued that it was the disappointment of Sir Keith Joseph with the research programme that fuelled his contempt for social science and his attempt, as Secretary of State for Education and Science, to abolish the Research Council. However, while the programme has recently been investigated in relation to other themes, the significance of the SSRC's involvement has neither been fully drawn out, nor integrated with the broader secondary literature on the history of social science research. The argument of this paper is that there is very little hard evidence that it was Joseph's dissatisfaction with the research programme that led to his attack on the SSRC. More interesting is the way the episode provides insights into the SSRC and the outlook of a generation of social scientists. The Research Council took the programme on for political reasons, it remained embarrassed about its ideological origins and it faced difficulties in promoting multidisciplinary research. Thus, this study shows the problems that can emerge when social scientists engage in research commissioned by their political masters.

KW - Deprivation

KW - ESRC

KW - Keith Joseph

KW - Social Science

KW - SSRC

KW - Transmitted

U2 - 10.1080/13619460802636425

DO - 10.1080/13619460802636425

M3 - Journal article

VL - 23

SP - 199

EP - 219

JO - Contemporary British History

JF - Contemporary British History

SN - 1361-9462

IS - 2

ER -