Public Release: 

What does the social sciences do for me?

Economic & Social Research Council

Your average conversation down the pub on a Friday night could include topics such as 'the kids are driving me mad this week' or 'the litter in our street is out of control' and 'have you seen that change 4 life advert on TV?' - but the crucial research behind the topics rarely gets the same attention. Three events during the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science (12-21 March) provides a fascinating insight into how social science research influences our everyday lives.

An event hosted online by the Open University's Institute for Social Marketing looks at how social marketing can influence our behaviour. Social marketing is a form of marketing that is used to influence behaviour for a 'social good' such as obeying the speed limit or not to smoke in public areas. The event will have several interactive elements such as videos, a blogs and an online discussion aimed at introducing the general public to social marketing and the way it is used to influence behaviour.

Family policy and parenthood is an important yet complex issue and one which can make people react in very different ways. The Institute of Ideas is hosting 'Standing up to Supernanny' a debate in partnership with the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival on Sunday 21 March. The debate will focus on whether parents need counselling, parenting classes and policies backed by academic research in order to be good parents or whether parents should be standing up to 'supernanny' policies, media and science.

'Consuming nature: sociology, you and nature' aims to look at the changing environment in the East Midlands from the industrial age to modern day. Hosted by the School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University at Attenborough Nature Centre on 17 March, the event will feature a guided 'philosophical encounter' with the nature reserve as well as discussion around the issue.



ESRC Press Office
Danielle Moore (Tel: 01793 413122, email:
Jeanine Woolley (Tel: 01793 413119, email:
(Out of office hours number, Tel: 07554333336)


1.Events highlighting the importance of social science include:

How social marketing changes public behaviour
Organiser: The Open University Business School
Friday 12 - Sunday 21 March. 24 hours a day
Venue: Online -
Audience: All Audience
For further information: How social marketing changes public behaviour

Standing up to Supernanny
Organiser: Institute of Ideas
Sunday 21 March 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Venue: The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, Blue Boar Marquee, Christ Church, Oxford. OX1 1DP.
Audience: All Audience
For further information: Standing up to Supernanny

Consuming nature: Sociology, you and nature
Organiser: School of Social Sciences, Division of Politics and Sociology, Nottingham Trent University
Wednesday 17 March 2:00pm - 6:00pm
Venue: Attenborough Nature Centre, Barton Lane, Attenborough, Nottingham. NG9 6DY
Audience: All Audience
For further information: Consuming nature: sociology, you, and nature

2.The ESRC Festival of Social Science provides a fascinating insight into how research influences our social, economic and political lives - both now and in the future. It runs from 12 to 21 March 2010, alongside National Science and Engineering Week. In its eighth year the 2010 Festival is proving the most popular and exciting yet, consisting of over 130 events across the UK, in over 40 cities. Events are aimed at a range of different audiences, including policy makers, business, the media, the general public and students of all ages. Events come in a variety of formats from traditional lectures and exhibitions to theatrical performances, film screenings and topical debates. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at .

3.The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at You can now follow updates from the ESRC on Twitter (, including new funding calls as they are posted, press releases, events and more.

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