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Over the last few years, all political parties and virtually all media commentators have agreed that a regime of austerity and debt reduction is necessary to rescue the economy: There has been much dispute over the scale and speed of the measures to be taken by government, but little or no real disputing ‘the moral necessity of austerity’. Is this reaction to the economic crisis justified – or prompted by a moral panic whereby the manufacture of a consensus view seems to preclude the possibility of any alternative? Rather than speculate on the present situation, this paper reviews what happened the last time a UK government faced a financial impasse – the IMF crisis of 1976 – and discusses how necessary were the choices made and therefore whether the consequences could have been avoided. One of the purposes of creating ‘social science in the city’ is to gain a greater appreciation of what, why and how groups of people feel about these issues: in a small way, my sense of the initiative is to create a counter-hegemony to the dominant discourses. The media and the ruling politicians of Europe may remain convinced of the necessity of austerity, to them the ‘folk devils’ are those who dare to disagree, but arguably by understanding this phenomenon as a moral panic, publics can better undermine the myths that present no alternative to the current course.

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This original edited collection explores the value of public engagement in a wider social science context. Its main themes range from the dialogic character of social science to the pragmatic responses to the managerial policies underpinning the restructuring of Higher Education. The book is organised in three parts: the first encourages the reader to reflect upon the different social and political inflections of public engagement and offers one university example of a social science café in Bristol. The following sections are based upon talks given in the café and are linked by a concern with public engagement and the contribution of social science to a reflexive understanding of the dilemmas and practices of daily life. This highly topical book will be of interest to academics, practitioners and students interested in critical social issues as they impact on their everyday lives.

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This chapter explores how future governments in the UK are likely to respond to the challenges of an ageing population especially in terms of the future funding of social care. It sets this challenge within the context of widespread ageism within British Society and the growing tendency to encourage conflict between the generations through a very unfair portrayal of so called ‘baby boomers’ as the selfish generation. It also provides a critique of the extent to which civic engagement or ‘the Big Society’ can reduce the need for the State to play a crucial role in ensuring a high quality of care and support for older people who are near the end of their lives.

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This chapter analyses the meaning of public engagement and its relations to broader policy agendas and institutional change. It also outlines the concept of “publics” and their discursive, institutional and technical forms of production. Finally it considers the origins of the café scientifique movement and the social science café in particular.

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This chapter asks how the ‘Agora’ or ‘marketplace’ should be opened up and maintained as a public and social space to allow for inclusive conversations about the dynamics at the heart of communities. It also develops ideas about groupishness, membership and participation.

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The conclusion argues that public engagement is now a central part of the university’s mission. In practice, top down managerialist approaches are combined with counter-hegemonic imaginaries of the public good. A key issue raised in the conclusion is how the axes of dialogue and control are mediated in practice. The social science café is taken as a case study of the role of socially imagined public spaces and identities and the diversity of publics. While acknowledging the importance of evaluation in public engagement initiatives the chapter argues against formulaic reduction and quantification in what were often diffuse and complex ‘impacts’. The chapter concludes by reiterating the emancipatory role of public sociology and the performative character of social science as bringing particular social realities into being.

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This chapter addresses the 2011 urban ‘disturbances’ or riots in England. It provides an overview of explanations offered by a YouGov poll carried out during the riots. It concludes that the riots constitute a relevant topic in social policy and a compass of collective values.

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This original edited collection explores the value of public engagement in a wider social science context. Its main themes range from the dialogic character of social science to the pragmatic responses to the managerial policies underpinning the restructuring of Higher Education. The book is organised in three parts: the first encourages the reader to reflect upon the different social and political inflections of public engagement and offers one university example of a social science café in Bristol. The following sections are based upon talks given in the café and are linked by a concern with public engagement and the contribution of social science to a reflexive understanding of the dilemmas and practices of daily life. This highly topical book will be of interest to academics, practitioners and students interested in critical social issues as they impact on their everyday lives.

Restricted access

This original edited collection explores the value of public engagement in a wider social science context. Its main themes range from the dialogic character of social science to the pragmatic responses to the managerial policies underpinning the restructuring of Higher Education. The book is organised in three parts: the first encourages the reader to reflect upon the different social and political inflections of public engagement and offers one university example of a social science café in Bristol. The following sections are based upon talks given in the café and are linked by a concern with public engagement and the contribution of social science to a reflexive understanding of the dilemmas and practices of daily life. This highly topical book will be of interest to academics, practitioners and students interested in critical social issues as they impact on their everyday lives.

Restricted access

This original edited collection explores the value of public engagement in a wider social science context. Its main themes range from the dialogic character of social science to the pragmatic responses to the managerial policies underpinning the restructuring of Higher Education. The book is organised in three parts: the first encourages the reader to reflect upon the different social and political inflections of public engagement and offers one university example of a social science café in Bristol. The following sections are based upon talks given in the café and are linked by a concern with public engagement and the contribution of social science to a reflexive understanding of the dilemmas and practices of daily life. This highly topical book will be of interest to academics, practitioners and students interested in critical social issues as they impact on their everyday lives.

Restricted access