Mine your data – why understanding online health communities matters

aude-bicquelet-4-webDr Aude Bicquelet is a Research Director in the Health team at NatCen – the National Centre for Social Research. Aude specialises in the analysis of ‘Big Qualitative Data’ on health-related issues and has worked with professional and regulatory health bodies such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Royal College of Physicians. 

In November, Aude presented findings from a recent study looking into how people use social media to discuss health issues at the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

A staggering 73% of adults in the UK turn to the internet when experiencing health problems. Whether it is to check symptoms, find out about available treatments or share experiences about living with a particular condition, the internet has become the first port of call with many turning to the web before they even consider going to see a doctor.
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Crime time: how a Festival event inspired my teaching

Ruth Shaw 150Ruth Shaw is Curriculum Leader for Social Sciences at Nelson and Colne College, where she teaches A-level Sociology.

In November 2016 she attended a crime-themed event, hosted by OCR as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science. The event gave her some real-world inspiration for teaching her students

As a teacher of sociology, this event was a rare and refreshing opportunity to think about how research into crime spans across a range of social science subjects – it was great to discuss ideas that spanned across geography, law, citizenship, psychology and sociology – and as you can probably tell from what I go on to write next, there was lots packed into a day! Continue reading

Discovering diet and exploring eating with UK teenagers

Peter Hovard 150Dr Peter Hovard is currently working as a Behavioural Insights Consultant, and was previously part of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) team based at NatCen.

As part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science 2016, the NDNS team ran an interactive session with a group of teenagers studying AS-level sociology. Here Peter explains how the students got involved and what made the day successful.

Children are not meeting many health targets, with teenagers being the main offenders with unhealthy eating. In fact, using figures from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), Cancer Research UK calculated that UK teenagers drink enough fizzy drinks to fill a bathtub each year. Continue reading

Developmental Coordination Disorder in the classroom

Elisabeth HillLaura Crane and Emma Sumner are based at Goldsmiths Action Lab. Their research focuses on a range of neurodevelopmental conditions, particularly autism and developmental coordination disorder. Here they discuss the topic of an event which they hosted in November 2016 as part of the Festival of Social Science.

Elisabeth Hill

Elisabeth Hill

Laura Crane

Laura Crane

Emma Sumner

Emma Sumner

What did you do in the first five minutes that you were awake this morning? Perhaps you hit snooze on the alarm? Buried your head into the pillow? Got out of bed and walked to the bathroom? Turned on the lights? Put some clothes on and went downstairs?

Whatever you did, it would have involved motor skill (in some way, shape or form) before anything else. For most of us, motor skills are rather effortless. However, for others, motor skills can be a source of constant difficulty, and can have far-reaching implications for their everyday lives. Continue reading

How can education and skills work for the many?

Raj Patel is Impact Fellow and Acting Director of the Understanding Society Policy Unit at the University of Essex. Here he discusses the latest issues facing the education and skills sector, ahead of an education debate to be hosted this week by Understanding Society as part of the Festival of Social Science.


Education transforms lives. So how successful are education and skills policies in the UK and how can they be improved? This question is becoming more complex to understand and answer in an era of mass education and diverse institutions, with patterns of participation, attainment and outcomes highly heterogeneous. Education of course does not exist as an island. Factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability, parental background, family lives, mental health and wellbeing, resources and geography have to be examined forensically to determine what predictive role they play in driving up or dampening attainment and outcomes. Continue reading