£4 million study of social issues

Pressing issues such as crime rates, urban segregation, and social inequalities in education are among concerns to be addressed by experts in a £4 million research initiative.

Attitudes to Scottish independence in the run up to next year’s referendum will also come under scrutiny as part of the initiative, led by the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Researchers will develop a broad programme of study over the next four years to help policy makers develop more effective policy, improve public services and build a better future for the public in Scotland.

Why has crime fallen?

The Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN) Research Centre, based at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law, has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Programme Director Professor Susan McVie will lead the research on Crime and Victimisation, which will seek to explain the dramatic drop in crime rates in Scotland over the last 30 years.

Her team will investigate whether some parts of Scotland have seen greater crime reductions than others. It will also explore the social, economic and environmental factors that influence patterns of victimisation and offending.

Why are cities segmented?

Professor Gwilym Pryce of the University of Glasgow will examine how and why cities are often segmented by race, religion and social class, and the long term effects of this clustering.

Educational choices: the secret of success?

Dr Cristina Iannelli, from the University’s Moray House School of Education, will study the mechanisms through which social inequalities in entry, progression and attainment in higher education affect people’s job prospects and civic participation.

Young people and Scottish independence

Professor Lindsay Paterson from the University’s School of Social and Political Science, will explore the attitudes of the Scottish public towards the referendum debate. It will include a survey of teenagers who will be aged 16 at the referendum and will be able to vote for the first time. The impact of online social media on public attitudes will also come under the spotlight.

Our programme of research represents an ambitious and wide-ranging set of projects that will target some of the key concerns amongst members of the public today, such as crime, the social segmentation of our cities, and inequalities in access to education. The goal is to better understand the processes which lead to these problems, and how they affect the lives of Scottish people today. Scotland has some of the best data in the world for researching social problems. We hope that by bringing together an esteemed international team of researchers from a broad range of academic disciplines we will be able to transform the quality and clarity of evidence provided to the Scottish and UK governments.

Professor Susan McVieProgramme Director