Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AHRC Funding and the Big Society

There’s some fantastic academic screeching going on at The Guardian over a proposal that AHRC funding should be used to research the Big Society. Among all the enraged carping, my favourite quote from Tristram Hunt, a Labour MP and historian (apparently):
"It is disgraceful that taxpayers' money is being spent on this bogus idea."
Well, a Labour MP is probably well placed to talk about wasting taxpayers’ money. After all, his odious party spent the best part of 13 years doing so. But seriously, “bogus”? How’s Bill, Ted?

Anyway, as far as I can see, there are three big problems with the complaints about the info in The Guardian article. Firstly, funding has always gone to topical issues. You want to research Ethnic Conflict? You can probably find some funding. You want to write about allusions to masturbation in Wuthering Heights? Guess what? Funding’s going to be more difficult to find. You might not like it, but that’s the way of the world. And guess what else? The Big Society is topical; funding always will go to topical things before more *ahem* idiosyncratic projects. Trust me, I know this personally.

Besides, surely we’re missing the point of research if we assume the outcome of that research? You can carry out research on the Big Society and conclude that it is a Big Old Bag of Bollocks. See, if the AHRC wants to give me say, ooo, I don’t know, £13,000 a year to divert my research into the political philosophy around the Big Society, I’ll do it. But I reckon I’ll end up concluding that it has all been said already – and more eloquently, coherently and convincingly than anything to spill out of the mouth of David Cameron.

But I wouldn’t get that money, even if I was seriously applying for it. Because here’s the third, and most fundamental, problem with the story. It’s bollocks.

Labels: , ,


At 11:59 am , Blogger ADMIN said...

Watch More Than 50+ Most Popular Indian T.v Serials Daily Episode In H.d Quality Video With Good Sound To Watch Please Visit at: www.desiindianserial.blogspot.com

At 6:15 pm , Anonymous Valerie said...

Personally I do not believe the story is bollocks at all. I rather suspect the AHRC's pathetic denial is actually evidence of that. The original article actually names and quotes a high ranking Cambridge professor. If you look on page 22 of BIS's Annual Science and Research Report (which is available to the public online), it does say that the AHRC will fund projects supporting the 'big society' iniative. Also in the BIS document (on page 57) is a rather sleazy 'clarification' of the Haldane principle, which protects academic research money from being taken over by political initiatives. While in the past, there has always been pressure on the research councils to have certain priorities, never has another government felt the need to provide such a clarification. And it is certainly reasonable that the funding bodies using public money should prioritize general themes that benefit the public good (like the past theme of religion and society that was somewhat aimed at understanding fundamentalism), but party political doctrines like the 'big society' can hardly fall under that catagory.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home