Becoming a Research Institute: the Centre for Economic Performance

by Stephen Machin

As Director of the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) at LSE, I am delighted that the Centre has been named as one of the two inaugural ESRC Research Institutes. This is testament to the achievements of the Centre, and its significant impact on a wide range of policy over the years.

Whilst the Centre’s mission has always been to study economic performance and its determinants, it has never been a ‘single issue’ centre. CEP has continually evolved to ensure that research attention is placed on key contemporary economic questions. Continue reading

Explaining Bitcoin technology using weddings and fridge magnets

by Chris Speed

Marriage contracts, fridge magnets and Pokemon-style games have been the inspiration behind our research tools to help people understand the concept of blockchain technology – the underlying architecture of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Most of us have heard of Bitcoin – the (relatively) new digital and global money system currency, allowing people to send or receive money across the internet – and are used to digital transactions like internet banking and contactless, but few of us understand the technology behind it. Continue reading

Seeing and doing the social science in the Industrial Strategy

Tim Vorley 150x150Tim Vorley is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean for Engagement, Impact and Innovation at Sheffield University Management School. He is an economic geographer by training, and the focus of his research is entrepreneurship, innovation and regional development. Tim convenes the Innovation Caucus, a group of 66 social science academics across the UK, who are funded by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council to provide real-time research insights about innovation theory, policy and practice.

mel knetsch 150Melanie Knetsch is ESRC’s Strategic Lead: Interdisciplinarity and Impact. Part of her role includes developing ESRC’s thinking and activities around interdisciplinary, challenge-led activities and ensuring that our research portfolio is more visible to potential users, as well as creating opportunities to enable researchers from other communities to engage with social science. She is currently overseeing ESRC’s engagement with the Industrial Strategy and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

At the beginning of this year the Government opened a consultation on a new Industrial Strategy for the UK.  Throughout the year it has become increasingly apparent that social scientists are not only well positioned to ride the wave of the Industrial Strategy, but they are also making a splash in their own right. Yet, beyond the ‘early engagers’ already involved, there remains a wider need for the social sciences to recognise and articulate the value of what they bring to the Industrial Strategy and the businesses it is intended to support. Continue reading

Time for Parliament to allow for job-sharing MPs?

rosie-campbell 150Rosie Campbell is Professor of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. She has recently written on what voters want from their parliamentary candidates, attitudes to MPs’ roles, the politics of diversity and gender and voting behaviour. She is the principal investigator of the ESRC-funded Representative Audit of Britain.

sarah childs 150Sarah Childs is Professor of Politics and Gender at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research centres on the theory and practice of women’s representation, gender and political parties, and re-gendering parliaments.

Just because MPs don’t job-share at the moment doesn’t mean they never will. We think it’s worth asking why the practices of flexible working, which have helped many people access to the labour market, don’t yet apply to our democratic institutions.

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Marginal money, mainstream economy

Max Gallien - runner up 150Max Gallien, a student at the London School of Economics and Political Science, was joint runner-up in Making Sense of Society, the ESRC’s writing competition 2017 in partnership with SAGE Publishing. This is his essay.

As I talk to him, Ahmed pulls his chair into his store to escape the hot Tunisian sun. He is a retired teacher – the years of screaming children can be counted in the rings framing his eyes. Behind him is his merchandise. To make up for a small pension, Ahmed is selling kitchenware in a market near the Libyan border. Over 400 tiny concrete garages surround him, goods piled high – clothes, bags, microwaves. It looks like any other market, but note an invisible detail: everything sold here is illegal. Every good in this market has been smuggled into Tunisia. Ahmed, though he may not look the part, is a smuggler. Continue reading