This Working Paper on Political and Social Science Research is one of a series of 10 papers published alongside DFID's Research Strategy 2008-2013. It presents the case for DFID-funded research on Political and Social Science Research - drawing on the responses given during a global consultation that DFID convened in 2007 about its future research.
Research into social development, governance and political science is about people, power and authority and relationships between citizens' social structures and the state. It is also about how people manage their own affairs as well as how organisations and institutions function. To date DFID's research in this area has focused on the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and the processes of institutional and social change, and in particular on what to do where states do not work in the interests of the poor, covering issues of citizenship, crisis states, state building and human insecurity.
This work is complemented by DFID's governance and social change research which investigates a range of cross country and cross-cultural themes where knowledge gaps about rights and inequalities exist. Most programmes are implemented through support to Development Research Centres and Research Programme Consortia. Spending on social development, governance and political science research amounted to £12 million in 2006/7 and this will rise to £15 million in 2007/8.
Better social policy can lead to higher standards of living and faster poverty reduction. However, while the quality of social policy has improved over the last two decades global standards have remained stagnant, highlighting the urgent need for more determined action. Key social policy challenges remain, among them poverty, child and maternal mortality; gender inequality and other forms of social exclusion; and changing population dynamics.
In response to these challenges, and informed by the consultation process, DFID's future research in this domain will seek to gain a fuller and deeper understanding about the complex and dynamic world of power, politics and poverty on the one hand, and people and participation on the other. It will focus on the most challenging environments where DFID works and the most intractable development problems that poor countries face.
Four broad research themes will be tackled: Conflict, state fragility and social cohesion - achieving effective and long-term improvements in the accountability of governments and states in fragile and post-conflict environments; Social exclusion, inequality and poverty reduction - including a better understanding of the role of social exclusion and inequality in determining the relationship between growth, employment and poverty; Building strong and effective states - cross-country policy research on different forms of state accountability, public financial management, power, politics and state society relations, and alternative, non-Western models of governance; and Hardest-to-reach MDGs - a new programme of multi-country research focusing specifically on the \"hardest to reach\" development questions: water, sanitation, education, health, hunger.
DFID, London, UK, 25 pp.