skape

The net migration target may have failed, but it has shifted the way we debate immigration

Figures released by the ONS today suggest that net migration to the UK stands at an all time high, at 336,000. The UK government’s pledge to reduce net migration ‘from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands’ seems further than ever from being achieved. So why hasn’t the government killed off this compromising …

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On evidence tools for public health policy

A range of techniques and methods exist to assemble and present research findings in a way that will be ‘useful’ to policymakers. In public health, three of the most popular are Health Impact Assessments, systematic reviews, and economic decision-making tools (including cost-benefit analysis and scenario modelling). Despite the broadly shared goals, these methodologies have developed …

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SKAPE is 1 year old!

We look back on a busy year, and talk about next steps for SKAPE SKAPE is celebrating its first anniversary today. We launched the Centre last June with a symposium on “Open Science, Open Society”, with guests Jill Rutter and Albert Weale. Other highlights of the year have included keynote lectures from Sheila Jasanoff, Jenny …

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Targeting brains, producing responsibilities: The use of neuroscience within British social policy

In a range of areas, the neurosciences have been described as influential – changing, it seems, policies, ideas on mental health, and our notions selfhood more generally. In a Leverhulme Trust-funded project we are looking at the way the neurosciences are (and are not) adopted in policy, the media, and family life. In a recent …

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Targets, quantification and moral deliberation

Much has been written about the ways in which quantified targets and performance indicators distort and compress the social dynamics they seek to represent. And scholars of science and technology studies have convincingly shown how such representations are not just descriptive but also performative, shaping our beliefs and norms about policy problems and appropriate responses. …

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The power and politics of international assessments in Europe

International education assessments have become the lifeblood of education governance in Europe and globally. However what do we really know about how education systems are measured against one another and the effects this measuring produces? Operating as a new form of global education governance, international assessments create a powerful comparative spectacle focused on the performance …

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The Use of Expertise in the Scottish Referendum Debate: Build Them Up to Knock Them Down?

In a wonderfully perceptive article from 1999, German sociologist Peter Weingart identifies two paradoxes surrounding the use of science in political debate (and we can apply this to expertise more generally). First, late modern societies show an unprecedented dependence on expert knowledge to assess the risks and consequences of political action. Politics becomes ‘scientised’. But …

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Can We Democratise Decisions on Complex Issues?

Professor Albert Weale FBA (UCL) writes about the challenges of knowledge democratisation Issues like the funding of highly expensive pharmaceutical interventions, new forms of animal breeding, dispersed chemicals in the environment, the genetic modification of plants or the choice among different forms of energy production make for hard public policy decisions. They are highly technical, …

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