This special issue presents some of the work of the Education and Social Research Institute (ESRI) at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. The introduction reviews some of the key challenges for social research at the present time, particularly qualitative research, and reflects on the ways in which a small ‘jobbing research centre’ can respond and sustain a space for critical research. It is argued that social science must be conceptualised as a democratic intellectual resource for the community rather than, as is increasingly the case, a technical service to government. Theory must engage with the empirical and the empirical must be informed and challenged by theory; one way to achieve this is to develop a diverse program of research activities. The introduction then goes on briefly to summarise the papers in the special edition.
- © 2013 International Institute for Qualitative Research, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign