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Expanding the Domain of Policy-Relevant Scholarship in the Social Sciences


  • William Julius Wilson


In this paper the author argues that social scientists need to do more to provide policy-relevant research. Rapid technological and economic change raise new issues about how policy should adjust that are not adequately addressed by older and narrower approaches. The author suggests two ways in which the domain of policy-relevant scholarship can be expanded. First, social scientists should be more flexible about the kinds of data they use and the ways they use them. Preliminary data can suggest new hypotheses, which can widen debate, and ethnographic and other qualitative methods can uncover patterns of behaviour invisible in quantitative sources. Second, social theories, concepts and ideas should play a greater role in the policy arena, shaping the way policy actors think about how the world works.

Suggested Citation

  • William Julius Wilson, 2002. "Expanding the Domain of Policy-Relevant Scholarship in the Social Sciences," CASE Papers case52, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:sticas:case52

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steedman, Hilary & McIntosh, Steven, 2001. "Measuring Low Skills in Europe: How Useful Is the ISCED Framework?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 564-581, July.
    2. Kevin Denny & Harmon, Harmon & Sandra Redmond, 2000. "Functional literacy, educational attainment and earnings - evidence from the international adult literacy survey," IFS Working Papers W00/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    4. Burgess, Simon & Gardiner, Karen & Propper, Carol, 2001. "Growing up: school, family and area influences on adolescents' later life chances," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6432, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Cameron, Gavin & Muellbauer, John, 2000. "Earnings Biases in the United Kingdom Regional Accounts: Some Economic Policy and Research Implications," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(464), pages 412-429, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cousins, Linwood H., 2013. "Deservingness, children in poverty, and collective well being," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1252-1259.


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