State of the Social Sciences 2021

A guide to the trends, challenges and opportunities for
Australian social science.


Snapshots covering all the main sectors of the social sciences ecosystem.

In depth

Synthesis of the findings into sector snapshots and scorecards. ‘Drill down’ sections explore key emerging issues at length.


Based on stakeholder input from 14 formal submissions, 12 roundtables, 5 interviews, 390 survey responses and 30+ reviewers.

A living resource

Open for comment and updated periodically.

Why social science?

What are the ‘social sciences’ and why do they matter?

Where are the social sciences practiced, taught and used?

And what are the big challenges for the sector?

Sector snapshots

Deep dive into individual components of the social sciences ecosystem

An open agenda for change

 5 sector-wide priorities.

26 sector-specific priorities.

Stay in touch

The Academy will continue the process of stakeholder consultations that fed into this report, commencing in 2022. It will invite stakeholders to think carefully and engage critically with the findings of this report and the priorities identified, and to consider what concrete actions could be undertaken organisationally, within disciplines or collectively to advance the social sciences in Australia.

We invite our readers and stakeholders to join the Academy in this process and to contribute according to their means and interests to ensure the Australian social sciences are robust, recognised, resilient and inclusive. More importantly: to ensure that social sciences can continue delivering valuable knowledge, insights and solutions to practitioners and professionals, students and alumni, to government and business decision makers and, ultimately, to society at large.