Social science research is big business in the UK. Practically every university has a social science department and the majority of universities conduct social science research. Outside of the university sector there’s a mass of social science research institutes, charitable organisations, think tanks and private companies all conducting social science research for the “good” of society, or so they say…
Having worked in social science departments for a number of years I am becoming increasing wary of social science research. The business of social science is based on socialist ideology. Social science is a multi-billion pound industry in the UK funded through a variety of mechanisms including trusts, charities and foundations, the European Union, the UK Government and private donations.
The Conservative government is funding thousands of left wing social science projects through a range of avenues including government departments and the UK Research Councils. The Economic and Social Research Council alone is funded to the tune of around £192 million this financial year. Whilst some of this money is spent of good projects large amounts is spent on left wing research ideas carried out by left wing researchers in left wing institutes. I have been involved in many research projects during my career and I have never once seen one that could be considered in any way right wing, in fact very few are even centralist. Large amounts of research done in UK university social science departments is left wing biased, pro-welfare, anti-self responsibility, pro-multiculturalism, pro-mass immigration. I find myself questioning if this research really is for the good of society or just those benefiting from the socialist gravy train?
The more I see of this research the more it worries me and because this research is carried out by “clever” academics many people believe that it must therefore be right. Very few people question the findings, there is very little right wing research done to counterbalance arguments. Bias is widespread and it’s likely, if difficult to measure, that even the methodologies used could incorporate bias (most have been developed by lefties), plus often the aims, objectives and research questions of projects are biased towards receiving a left wing outcome.
To add to the 100+ leftwing universities in the UK producing social science research there is a massive array of trusts, charities and foundations also in the research game. The university impact agenda (part of the Research Excellence Framework) has fuelled a drive for more “useful” research that creates wider social benefit and is excelling the social science agenda. University academics are being pushed to bring in more research funds and create more impact, so apply to a range of organisations, including trusts and charities to fund research. But, charities only fund research which benefits their charitable aims, so if they fund academic research to show that, for example, inequality has grown in the UK, this is what the university will deliver.
The drive for collaboration is fuelling closer relationships between universities and charitable organisations. The universities need the charities and the charities need universities as they provide academic experience but increasingly to gain access to governmental funding pots they would generally be excluded from applying to themselves. Also, even when funding eligibility doesn’t allow charities to financially gain from a project they are still encouraged to be project partners which gives them access to the research outputs as well as influence the research project itself. Collaboration between universities and charities could therefore be seen as a conflict of interest. Charities are only interested in furthering their aims, they are not going to be involved in research projects that dis-prove their charitable aims and render there cause obsolete. Therefore research is only conducted which will further prove their aims and give them further bargaining power either with government or to market to the general population.
There is a further issue with funding of the social science research sector in the UK. Most charities expect universities to part-fund research projects by providing overheads and often directly allocated academic time in-kind. However, universities are charities too, they can’t afford to give this financial subsidy so the university is able to claim a proportion of uncovered costs back from Higher Education Funding Council England (HEFCE) ie. pass the buck for the unfunded part of the project to the taxpayer. Many of the charities which fund research are extremely wealthy holding millions of pounds in assets and it seems rather unethical that they are passing the burden to the taxpayer, especially when the research goes against what the public voted for.
It’s clear that there is very little platform in the UK to do right wing research. There are few right wing academics conducting right wing research in universities or working openly either at universities and charities. If a right wing researcher were to produce social science research in a university post then I image it would cause quite a stir. It would also be difficult to secure funding to enable a project to take place. Even if submitted to a “neutral’ organisation like the ESRC I very much doubt a right wing research project would get through the evaluation process. It may be possible to choose your own reviewers for ESRC projects, so theoretically you could find three reviewers that shared a right wing mindset, assuming the ESRC used the reviewers you requested, but even if your project scored highly from the reviewers comments I can’t imagine for one moment that it would get funded by the panel, whose representatives are almost all going to be orientated to the Left.
The leftie bias of social sciences cuts through every aspect of research, but perhaps by very virtue of the very name “social” we should even expect it to be left wing? From the teaching of social science in university to the development of projects and methodologies all levels of social science have been inflicted with left wing bias. It is very difficult for a right wing researcher or student to thrive in the university world so there is little educational encouragement for right wing leaning people to flourish as social science researchers. We know that debate in UK universities is being suffocated and that students are being fed left wing bias and I wonder how far this bias goes: how would a Marxist lecturer grade a right wing student dissertation and would it be marked objectively?
If Theresa May and the Conservative government are serious about promoting Conservative aims, negotiating a successful Brexit deal and reducing immigration then they need be able to challenge left wing thought at an academic level. At the moment left wing ideology goes vastly unchallenged, mainly because there is little right wing research to counterbalance the argument. It is assumed that research is correct because it is conducted by ‘brainy” researchers with PhDs. This is a very dangerous assumption to make; all academic thought must be challenged.
The Conservatives need to fight back with a matter of urgency. The UK desperately needs more right wing research and to better promote our values through lobbying and policy making but also to challenge the Left’s “facts”. We need to produce more research to understand the population as a whole not just those at the bottom of society, which is where left wing research is mainly concentrated. There are many issues for the better off, but these are rarely considered as they do not fit with current agenda. Until we better understand the difficulties and drivers, incentives and motivations of the entire population and how this interacts with people’s attitudes, society and the state we will accomplish nothing other than the downward spiral of socialism.
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty