Celebrating Social Science at St Andrews

The Social Sciences @ St Andrews group are organising a seminar from Professor Michael Hechter: see below. Further details of this event are TBC. Refreshments will be provided.

Status Reversal and Its Discontents

Fabian G. Neuner and Michael Hechter, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University

The recent rise of reactionary politics in modern democracies across the globe has been attributed to a variety of causes, including deindustrialization, economic inequality, immigration, and the rising fortunes of ethnic, racial, religious, and gender and sexual minorities. These explanations for rising support for parties of the radical right and left posit a common underlying dynamic: namely, a reaction among relatively privileged individuals and groups to the fear – or the reality – of downward status reversal. This paper seeks to identify the causal impact of actual status loss on in-group bias, outgroup discrimination, and potential downstream political attitudes. Importantly, the experiments isolate the effect of status reversal from that of pre-existing beliefs about lower status outgroups that may confound the relationship. Results suggest that status reversal can affect a range of group-based attitudes but caution against attributing effects on outgroup discrimination and downstream political consequences to the loss of status alone. 

Michael Hechter is a Foundation Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University and an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hechter has also taught at the Universities of Washington, Arizona, Oxford and Copenhagen.  He has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and the Russell Sage Foundation, and was a visiting professor at the Universities of Bergen and Ljubljana. Hechter is the author of numerous books, including Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536-1966 (1975; 1999); Principles of Group Solidarity (1987); Containing Nationalism (2000), Alien Rule (2013), Rational Choice Sociology (2019) and The Genesis of Rebellion, with Steven Pfaff (2020), He is editor/co-editor of The Microfoundations of Macrosociology(1983); Social Institutions: Their Emergence, Maintenance and Effects (1990); The Origin of Values (1993); Social Norms (2001, 2005); and Theories of Social Order, with Christine Horne (2003; 2008). His articles have appeared in the American Sociological Review, American Journal of SociologyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DemographyJournal of Theoretical PoliticsRationality and SocietySociological TheoryEuropean Sociological Review, and many other journals. His writings have been translated into Italian, Japanese, Hungarian, Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, Romanian and Georgian.

Building & Celebrating Social Science – 8th June 2023

Nina Laurie, the Research Impact Team and Parth Pandya hosted a cross-discipline inaugural event on celebrating social science research at St Andrews on the 8th June. We listened to some interesting presentations from across the university on how researchers are integrating social science concepts into their work in different ways, using different research methods & adopting different perspectives. We had a fabulous keynote from Nissa Finney and Nasar Meer who work at the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (a large grant funded ESRC centre) to learn more about their thoughts on interdisciplinary, social science research and opportunities & challenges when conducting social science research. It was chaired by the lovely Rebekah Widdowfield (Vice Principal at St Andrews). We want to thank everyone who participated in roles big and small as it is the coming together of the research community which makes these events successful.

This event has helped to widen our conceptualisations of social science research in how we think about concepts, how we approach our research, and formulation of the ‘research gap’. This event has also helped to improve understanding of research funding structures especially when partnering with researchers across disciplines and universities and how to develop cross-discipline networks.

We’re looking forward to the next steps of this project and are hopefully looking to hold sandpit events and open funding calls in the hope to improve social science research engagement amongst researchers & facilitate social science application to research being conducted at the university.


Academy of Social Science and St Andrews

St Andrews is proud of its association with the Academy of Social Sciences. Current Academy Fellows include Professor Brad MacKay Deputy Principal Dr Rebekah Widdowfield VP People and Diversity, Professor Paul Hibbert School of Management and Professor Nina Laurie School of Geography and Sustainable Development. The Academy’s Chief Executive, Dr Rita Gardner, became a St Andrews honorary graduate in 2018.

Aims of the ‘Campaign for the Social Sciences

  • Set up in 2011 to demonstrate, beyond academia, how social science improves public policy, society and all our lives.
  • The Campaign’s purpose is to showcase the value of social science research and advocate for its greater use in decision-making, government and business. 
  • The Campaign aims to promote the benefits of investing in social science to deliver evidence-based solutions to the challenges and opportunities facing our society.

What the Campaign does

  • Showcases social science through its website which includes a series of hubs on selected major policy areas of the day, currently including COVID-19, Living Standards, and Climate and Sustainability. 
  • Organises events, online and in person,  including co-branded events working with its main supporters. These aim to bring together expertise and perspectives from across academia and the public and private sectors.  
  • Responds to policy/government inquiries and consultations.
  • Advocates and influences policy. The Campaign has networks in Whitehall in particular, given its UK-wide remit in HE. It is in the process of strengthening links in Scotland and Wales. 
  • Issues policy briefings, major reports, and other publications.
  • Provides opportunities for supporting institutions to showcase some of their work on the Academy website as a Campaign Supporter


The Celebrating Social Science at St Andrews team:

Professor Nissa Finney, Dr Katy Keenan, Dr Louise Reid and Professor Nina Laurie of the School of Geography and Sustainable Development; Professor Kirsty Ball, Prof Paul Hibbert and Dr Vicky Ward of the School of Management; Dr Kristen Harkness, School of International Relations and Dr Rebekah Widdowfield Vice-Principal (People and Diversity); Laura Bates, Head of Research Impact (RIS).