Author: Rosie Read (Health and Social Care)
Alternative name suggestion: Socio-Cultural Change, Conflict and Cohesion
Brief theme summary: A rapidly globalising world generates profound economic and social instabilities, opportunities and inequalities. The truly global nature of corporate capital and investment, alongside the large scale migration of populations across the world in search of better opportunities, raises key problems and/or debates in the contemporary world. These developments have been linked to the rise of class and ethnicity-based conflicts and political and religious extremism, as well as the seemingly contradictory role of governments in seeking to encourage growth (via deregulation and privatisation) whilst also needing to guarantee some level of social and economic equality and protection for vulnerable sections of the population (however these may be defined). These problems raise important questions for how to create social cohesion, and specifically the responsibilities of governments, corporations, non-profit organisations and individuals in achieving this.
Scope of theme: what is included? Socio-cultural change, globalisation, conflict, equality and diversity, governance, cohesion, security.
Scope of theme: what is excluded? This theme embraces all strands of social science as well as humanities and the arts. Natural sciences, engineering and technology-based sciences may be outside of this theme in the first instance, but opportunities to collaborate with these disciplines will be taken up where advantageous. This may be potentially fruitful when considering digital technologies, green technologies and the theoretical crucible enabled by complex systems theories.
Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?
- How can equality, opportunity and social cohesion within and between different societies be understood and defined, ensured and promoted in the context of globalisation? What role, if any, should governments, multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations, faith organisations and individuals play in achieving this?
- How are identities and notions of citizenship formed in societies characterised by cultural diversity, inequality and insecurity? What are the consequences for social cohesion, political organisation, solidarity, collective forms of responsibility and protection against insecurity?
- How can contemporary conflicts in the world be better understood, and thereby addressed or prevented? How can the vast critical scholarship and expertise from the social sciences, arts and humanities be used to analyse and address contemporary conflicts in the world?
How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?
- ESRC: Strategic Plan 2009-2014. This theme overlaps with four (of seven) of key priority areas for this research council’s funding during this period. These are: Global Economic Performance, Policy and Management, Health and Wellbeing, Security, Conflict and Justice and Social Diversity and Populations Dynamics
- RCUK: (1) The AHRC is leading a cross-council research programme entitled ‘Connected Communities’, aimed at creating better understanding of the key societal and economic challenges facing communities, as well as effective forms of intervention. (2) ‘Global Uncertainties’ programme, supported by a range of research councils, including AHRC and ESRC.
- EU: (1) Key theme of Framework 7 is ‘Social and Economic Concerns’, incorporating a number of foci relevant to this theme, such as regional development, employment issues, safety, security and social and economic issues. (2) Youth in Action Programme, European Commission, aimed at promoting sense of European citizenship and solidarity amongst young people in EU.
How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration? This theme has obvious links with several others under consideration, notably Health and Wellbeing, Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth, Learning and Public Engagement and Green Economy and Sustainability.