iKNOW ERA Toolkit

Applications of Wild Cards and Weak Signals to the Grand Challenges & Thematic Priorities of the European Research Area

Funded by Directorate-General for Research and Innovation Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities 

Social Sciences and Humanities

Display Wild Cards & Weak Signals

The Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) theme has a total budget of € 0.6 billion. SSH Research will help us study and provide answers to questions related to:

  • - growth, employment and competitiveness;
  • - social cohesion, social, cultural and educational challenges in an enlarged EU;
  • - sustainability, environmental challenges, demographic change, migration and integration, quality of life and global interdependence.

Emphasis is given to the following areas:

  • - Growth, employment and competitiveness in a knowledge society
  • - Combining economic, social and environmental objectives in a European perspective
  • - Major trends in society and their implications
  • - Europe in the world (covering a.o. migration, poverty, crime and conflict)
  • - The citizen in the European Union
  • - Socio-economic and scientific indicators
  • - Foresight activities, such as the future implications of global knowledge, migration and ageing

Emerging themes and issues

Social sciences and humanities research is sometimes seen as an irritant, drawing attention to social problems or to ideas that are currently out of favour (though they may be mainstreamed in the future).  This makes the theme a fertile one for generation of wild cards and weak signals, but its importance in enabling European society to reflect upon itself and where it is heading is critical.  At the time of writing, concerns about the treatment of SSH in future Framework and Innovation Programmes have rarely reached a wide audience, but we might expect the absence of SSH research other than that directly informing other thematic areas to be a source of problems in years to come.

In the meantime, we can simply note that there are huge uncertainties as to the future development of social cohesion and social inclusion, of European demographics and mobility, of problems such as the “obesity epidemic” (not merely a health issue) and the relations of citizens with political institutions; and that the very economic crisis we are living through is a product of phenomena that are fit topics for SSH research.  (ICT applications in finance are a small part of the problem.).  They are also topics where we would do well to anticipate surprises in the coming years. 

Click on the Display Wild Cards / Weak Signals button above to see selected issues associated to this theme.