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


Venue:The Playfair Library, Old College, University of Edinburgh

Date and time: 5.30pm followed by a drinks reception at 7.30pm

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

Numbers and stories:  social science, data and public engagement in a ‘post fact’ world
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.

Join us on Tuesday 6th June at the Playfair Library at the University of Edinburgh to enjoy Sharon's insightful lecture. You will also hear from Professor Susan McVie, Director of AQMeN, who will share some of the achievements and highlights from the last eight years of The Applied Quantitative Methods Network. 

The event will be chaired by Professor Patrick Sturgis, Director of the National Centre for Research Methods.

This event is free to attend and open to all however registration is essential. Please register via Eventbrite.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - 17:30
The Playfair Library

Research Strand: