funders—behavioral economics, human dimensions of climate change, population studies, life course development, aging, and race, ethnic, and gender studies.

An important example directly related to understanding the use of social science across a broad array of public policies is the ambitious effort pioneered by neoconservative social scientists who were skeptical about the effectiveness of many Great Society programs. With the Olin Foundation in the lead, private funds subsidized books, endowed university professorships, offered student fellowships, and established think tanks—similar to strategies earlier pioneered by the Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Fund—“all with the intent of changing the prevailing terms of debate” and advancing market-sympathetic policy (Rodgers, 2011, p. 7). This effort shaped the ongoing debates about the respective merits of the state and the market with respect to a long list of social policies—including whether poverty was better reduced by social welfare government programs or market forces, and whether school reform was better advanced through vouchers and school choice than leaving many educational practices under the influence of teacher unions.

Field development is not limited to foundations, though they have been particularly adept at it. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is attentive to how its funds might shape fields of inquiry, noting that in addition to its reliance on a well-established peer review process to guide its grant making, program officers should “identify promising research that responds to national priorities identified by Congress and the Administration” and to “incorporate agency or programmatic priorities” in NSF funding (Marrett, 2011, p. 3).2 Particularly important to our purpose, the portfolio of grants funded by the NSF is expected to achieve “special program objectives and initiatives” and to build “capacity in a new and promising research area” (Marrett, 2011, p. 5).

A highly visible and in some quarters sharply criticized foray is the recent Science of Science Policy Initiative (Fealing et al., 2011). The broad purpose is to develop an evidentiary base for policy decisions on investments in basic and applied scientific research. New federal programs associated with this purpose include the Science of Science and Innovation Policy at NSF and an interagency task force sponsored by the National Science and Technology Council. A virtual community of practice has been organized,


2For a technical description of NSF’s merit review policy, see [February 2012].

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