This essay examines the issues that the ongoing revolution in biosciences and biotechnology pose to social science. A convenient frame for examining these issues is the framework of "thematic priorities" established by the British funding agency for social science, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). These "thematic priorities" are used to identify major challenges and opportunities that currently confront social research. Though not constructed as part of a futures exercise, this framework proved useful for organising the issues that were generated from literature review and brainstorming, provided a stimulus to identify new issues, and was a useful filter for presenting results to the ESRC, which sponsored the study. This range of issues does not just call for interaction between natural and social scientists: there is also need for the sharing of knowledge and perspectives across diverse fields of social science. In order to help inform future research priorities, we need to move beyond the perspectives of single disciplines, and make sure that we do not simply emphasise those areas where social scientists have already been actively engaged. The study concludes clearly that there is a huge range of vital questions that social science needs to address if we are to understand, let alone bring more social intelligence to bear on shaping, the scientific and technological revolutions that are under way, and their broader social implications.
- Social sciences