If they want to get funding. Really.
Academics [in the UK] will study the “big society” as a priority, following a deal with the government to secure funding from cuts.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will spend a “significant” amount of its funding on the prime minister’s vision for the country, after a government “clarification” of the Haldane principle – a convention that for 90 years has protected the right of academics to decide where research funds should be spent.
Under the revised principle, research bodies must work to the government’s national objectives, although the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that ministers will not meddle in individual projects.
It is claimed the AHRC was told that research into the “big society” was non-negotiable if it wished to maintain its funding at £100m a year….
…A principal at an Oxford college, who did not want to be named, said: “With breathtaking speed, a slogan for one political party has become translated into a central intellectual agenda for the academy.”
It seems to me the only hope is for the AHRC to understand ‘research into big society’ extremely broadly. E.g., “The big society’ contains the word ‘big’. The meaning of ‘big’ varies with context in some important ways. I will study contextual variation as a way to gain further insight into ‘The Big Society’.”
Sigh. Actually, that’s just farcical. And disgusting.