Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Essay Competition: Can social sciences save lives?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Social Sciences: Social, cultural, ethical, economic and political problems facing global society today cannot be tackled by technology and natural sciences alone. Social scientific research aims to explain the changes that affect social and political life. What are we looking for? We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary studies including sociology, political science, international relations, history, economics, anthropology, and philosophy. Eligible essays can define ‘saving lives’ broadly in order to cover both micro- and macro-level projects that make a difference in our living standards. Who are Social Scientists? Social scientists can be identified as actors, norm entrepreneurs, change agents, or ‘disinterested Others’ (following George Herbert Mead) who criticize the conventional and taken-for-granted concepts, assumptions, methods, solutions and ‘ways of doing things’. Alternatively, you can focus on how Social Sciences can structure the way in which individuals, groups and societies think and behave. What is the aim? The main objective of this essay competition is to explore the ways in which social scientific research enriches and informs society and contributes to the improvement of living standards in the global era. This essay competition puts the emphasis on the ‘Social’ defined as a ‘whole’ rather than being compartmentalized into separate disciplines. Social does not only refer to interaction, communication, media, networks, and history, but it also suggests investigating the central place of memory, consciousness, ideologies, translation, theorization, feelings of belonging, norms, and rituals. Besides, the social does not only involve rational choice, cost-benefit calculations, coercive power, agency, and strategy; it also includes different types of rationality such as rule following, heuristics, conspiracies, morality and ethics. It does not solely cover history-making ‘grand bargains’, top-down rules, direct actions and revolutionary movements. It also explores non-decisions, structures, bottom- up processes, disinterested others, and daily practices such as gift-giving and leisure. Finally, this essay competition understands globalisation as a key component of social sciences. Globalisation can be seen as both homogenizing and heterogenizing social life at the same time: humanity is increasingly considered as ‘one’ community living in a ‘global village’ but it also values and promotes diversity, i.e. the preservation of authentic cultures, religions, identities, languages, food, dress, sports, music, theatre, traditions, institutions, norms, beliefs, and rites. Eligibility Open to all social scientists (PhD students and junior scholars are welcome). Word length 5000–7000 words (exclusive of references and endnotes) Prizes There will be 1 winner + 3 honorable mentions + certificates Submission deadline 15 June 2014 Submissions and requests for further information should be sent to Dr Didem Buhari-Gulmez in both Word or PDF format to mbuhari-gulmez@brookes.ac.uk. In partnership with Royal Holloway University of London and Brunel University.