Brighton's social scientists are at the forefront of research in three key areas: society at work, society at leisure and society in transition. These have been identified as UK research council and government priorities.
Research into gun culture at Brighton has implications for policymakers both in the UK and in countries where gun crime is headline news and changing society. This wide-ranging research has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and points to a number of factors which are crucial to tackling gun crime. They include measures to tackle social exclusion and discrimination, community projects that confront antisocial behaviour and the need for exit strategies for those caught up in gangs.
Shifting demographics is another area where society is in transition. The growing number of elderly people has led to an increasing focus on quality of life and Brighton’s work in this area has drawn interest from other countries grappling with the issue of an ageing population. The research team has devised a comprehensive system for assessing quality of life which directly reflects older people's varied concerns, such as maintaining their independence and keeping close family ties.
Leisure is central to contemporary society and Brighton staff have led research into leisure and the natural environment. One project has examined for the first time in detail the tangle of laws, deeds, statutes and customs that limit people’s leisure use of rivers and lakes. Practical work by the researchers, working with the Environment Agency, has led to the opening up of long stretches of rivers to anglers, canoeists and other water sports enthusiasts.
Many of these leading researchers are also involved in a major project the university has established to draw on research expertise to tackle disadvantage and promote sustainable development through partnership working. The Community University Partnership Programme (Cupp) was launched in 2003 and brings together academics, practitioners, service users, community groups and students to look at ways of addressing community problems.
From international to local issues, Brighton's social sciences researchers are having a significant impact on the key areas affecting our society.