Tasty morsels on the social science menu

Leading social scientists are distilling some of their biggest ideas into an easily digestible series of podcast interviews.

May 10, 2012

Officially launched on 10 May by the publisher SAGE, the series, Social Science Bites, was created by David Edmonds, a BBC radio producer and senior research associate at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and Nigel Warburton, senior lecturer in philosophy at The Open University.

The series draws on the success of the duo's earlier Philosophy Bites - 180 podcasts downloaded more than 13 million times over the past five years. The first three Bites are now available for free download, with a new one to follow each month. Each podcast is around 15 minutes long.

Rom Harre, director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science at the London School of Economics, asks: "What is social science?" while Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield, examines the nature and costs of increasing inequality.

Meanwhile, Richard Sennett, centennial professor of sociology at the LSE, discusses the complex forms of cooperation required to work "with people you don't understand, people who are simply different from you or people you don't like".

Transcripts of the podcasts will appear on the online Social Science Space hosted by SAGE.

Dr Warburton said that scholars under pressure to engage with wider audiences were "usually grateful and delighted to be asked to take part. David makes them sound better than they have ever sounded before."

Professor Dorling, who is concerned by the pattern of "wealth increasing at the top while absolute poverty is rising and more people are going hungry", already produces popular books on the subject, but sees the podcast as a way of reaching out still further.

"I would be sad in 10 years' time if I hadn't spoken out about these things now," he said. "The point of doing a podcast is to bring them to the attention of people below their mid-30s who are less patient at dealing with traditional media but need to be the ones continuing the debate."

matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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