What is social science?

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How social science shapes lives

Social scientists influence our lives usually without us being aware they are doing so. For example, a study of behaviour at football matches has shown that if police avoid heavy-handed tactics this can help maintain crowd control in potentially hostile situations. The study’s findings on how to create a less confrontational atmosphere are being included in police training across Europe.

Other research findings have informed policies aimed at reducing child poverty and reforming the UK tax system to help poorer families. Charities such as Save the Children have used such research to highlight the higher prices paid by the poor for basic necessities such as fuel and banking.

Here are some other examples of areas in which social science influences our lives, including:

  • what the role of government is in an increasingly market-based society, which has been determined by famous thinkers such as John Maynard Keynes and Karl Popper
  • the economist who came up with the idea of the National Health Service
  • payment of billions of pounds of state benefits for the needy, influenced by the work of social scientists
  • social science research findings continuing to provide invaluable information for parents, local councillors, police officers, and business executives.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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