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Since before the turn of the last century, social scientists have been producing evidence on how society works. Governments have increasingly taken this on board when forming policy and entire political movements have been driven by the ideas of “some defunct economist”. However, most people still do not know what a social scientist does and would probably wish economists would stop doing whatever it is that they do.

This lecture will set out the role that social scientists and economists play in the workings of UK government. Drawing on his own experiences and a wider historical perspective, Professor Peter Urwin will describe the development of this, sometimes fraught, relationship and consider what happens when evidence gets in the way of politics.

Peter Urwin is Director of the Centre for Employment Research and Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Westminster. He has focused on the application of approaches used primarily in the field of economics across a wide variety of subjects, and in his academic work he has a particular focus on the issues faced by government policymakers.

Professor Peter Urwin

Peter Urwin is Director of the Centre for Employment Research and Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Westminster. He has focused on the application of approaches used primarily in the field of economics, across a wide variety of subjects. Peter has published in journals such as Work, Employment and Society; Applied Economics and the International Journal of Management Reviews.

Professor Urwin has a particular focus on the issues faced by government policymakers. Within the UK he has worked with HM Revenue and Customs; the department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice. In his work he has collaborated with staff from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Centre for Economic Performance at LSE, the Policy Studies Institute, Cranfield School of Management and Southampton University.

Peter has supervised PhD and MPhil candidates to successful completion and has acted as a referee for the ESRC and academic journals, including the Manchester School, the Journal of Regional Studies, the Southern Economic Journal and the Economics of Education Review.

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