Skip to content

About MiSoC

The ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change (MiSoC) is a multidisciplinary centre that studies the micro-social causes and consequences of macro-social change through a wide-ranging and multi-disciplinary research agenda. MiSoC has been based at ISER at the University of Essex since 1989, and the current research programme is run jointly with researchers at the University of Bristol. Our research themes aim to address questions that reflect social inequalities: how and why are resources such as income, health and wellbeing distributed, how is technology changing the demand for skills in the labour market, and how can we help young people from all backgrounds have access to acquiring these skills? Our work also explores how families are changing, how society and the economy are affected by ageing and migration, and how behaviours, attitudes and outcomes are passed down from one generation to the next. A unifying theme is the use of advanced quantitative methods and the analysis of longitudinal micro-data. We will also develop and use new statistical and computational methods to provide credible scientific findings in an underpinning programme of methodological work.

MiSoC research is both substantive, addressing important social issues, and methodological, contributing to the development of research methods and the building of research capacity. It is based primarily on household- and individual-level survey data and aims to take a dynamic, longitudinal view rather than a static cross-section view; and to allow for the inter-relatedness of different aspects of social change, and the endogeneity and selection effects that are typical of social research problems. MiSoC research aims to benefit a wide range of organisations involved in policy debates, policy design and practice, in a range of domains, located in the UK and other countries, and provide evidence informing key policy choices, such as the balance between intervening late or early in children’s lives, the role of family and wider society in an individual’s development, the choice between universal or targeted support or safety nets for the vulnerable, and the relative roles of values, expectations and preferences versus structure in determining how we act.

Previous programmes:

2009-2014 programme: “Understanding social change”:

Applicants: Stephen Pudney (PI and Director until 2012), Mike Brewer (Director from 2012), Richard Berthoud, John Ermisch, Stephen Jenkins, Amanda Sacker and Holly Sutherland

  • How families and social ties determine children’s life chances
  • How individuals’ attitudes, expectations and preferences shape their employment and careers
  • How wages, household income and social disadvantages vary across social and ethnic groups

2014-2019 programme: “Understanding individual and family behaviours in a new era of uncertainty and change”:

Applicant: Mike Brewer (Director from 2012)

  • How individuals and families are affected by and react to changes in their life circumstances
  • How new members of society – children, young people and new migrants – develop and are integrated into it
  • How values, attitudes, expectations, tastes or preferences and identity are formed.

Find out more about our areas of research and current work.

For more details, please contact the Director, Emilia Del Bono.

MiSoC’s Advisory Board is made up of academics, policy makers, journalists, employees of think-tanks and research foundations, and representatives from the private sector. Its general role is to act as a critical friend, advise on MiSoC’s overall shape, academic direction and relevance to policy and practice. It is currently chaired by Professor Simon Burgess.

Current members of the Advisory Board are listed below:

MiSoC Advisory Board members 2019-24