Social Science is Explanation or it is Nothing

Hosted by the Department of Sociology

Online public event


Professor Julian Go

Professor Julian Go

Professor Noortje Marres

Professor Noortje Marres

Professor Melinda Mills

Professor Melinda Mills

Professor Mike Savage

Professor Mike Savage


Professor Monika Krause

Professor Monika Krause

Engaging with LSE's core motto, "Rerum Cognoscere Causas" meaning "to know the causes of things", this event engages with a fundamental question about the purpose and future of the social sciences.

The event will bring together four outstanding social scientists with a range of research interests and a range of traditions to discuss whether social science is explanation or it is nothing. Inspired by the Group for Debates in Anthropological Theory, the speakers have been asked to speak in favour or in opposition to this motion. Noortje Marres and Mike Savage will speak in opposition, while Julian Go and Melinda Mills will speak in favour.

Meet our speakers and chair

Julian Go (@jgo34) is Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. His research lies at the intersections of historical sociology, social theory, and global studies. His theoretical work bridges critical social theory with postcolonial/decolonial and global social thought in an attempt to transcend the limits and biases of conventional theory in the social sciences.

Noortje Marres (@NoortjeMarres) is a Professor at the University of Warwick in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, where she investigates issues at the intersection of innovation, publics, the environment and everyday life. She is also a member of the 2021 REF Sociology sub-panel and a Visiting Professor in the Centre for Media of Cooperation at the University of Siegen (Germany).

Melinda Mills is the Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science as well as Nuffield Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford. Her research spans multiple topics in demography, empirical sociology, statistics and genetics. Her recent work focuses on combining a social science and molecular genetic approach to the study of behavioural outcomes, with a focus on reproduction (fertility), chronotype, nonstandard, precarious employment and assortative mating.

Mike Savage (@MikeSav47032563) is the Martin White Professor at LSE in the Department of Sociology and also the Convenor of Cities, Jobs and Economic Change Research Theme at the International Inequalities Institute. His work focuses around analysing social stratification and inequality, with an emphasis on class structures.

Monika Krause is Professor in Sociology at LSE as well as the Co-Director of LSE Human Rights. Her research addresses comparative questions about form of expertise, professions, organizations and fields of practice.

More about this event

The Department of Sociology (@LSEsociology) seeks to produce sociology that is public-facing, fully engaged with London as a global city, and with major contemporary debates in the intersection between economy, politics and society – with issues such as financialisaton, inequality, migration, urban ecology, and climate change.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSESociology

Podcast & Video

A podcast of this event is available to download from Social Science is Explanation or it is Nothing.

A video of this event is available to watch at Social Science is Explanation or it is Nothing.

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

Live captions

Automated live captions will be available at this webinar. Once you join the Zoom webinar, you will be able to show or hide the subtitles by clicking on the “Live Transcript - CC” button, from where you can also change the font size and choose to view the full transcript. Please note that this feature uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology, or machine generated transcription, and is not 100% accurate.


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