Social science is the scholarly study of human society and social relationships. It is a tremendously important branch of research that examines what it means to be a social being, how individuals function together as organized groups and societies, and how they interact with each other on issues of common interest. Yet, this remains very broad to provide proper guidance to an early career researcher, as myself. In particular, a researcher en route to social impact. In order to be socially relevant, social research has to be problem-driven. I think, the most pressing problems of today are
(1) sustainability transition, incl. natural resource governance, climate change, and decoupling of well-being from consumption;
(2) intercultural conflicts, religious controversies, new sources of violence, and pathways to democracy, tolerance, equality, and peace;
(3) unbridled reliance on technology of digitalisation and automation/AI leading to individual deskilling, societal depoliticisation, new political economy of tech giants, and loss of social competences.
Yet, it does not mean that we can tackle these issues straight away. Indeed, over a century of institutionalized social research already provided us with some important insights, but as our environment changes, so do the answers.