The pub quiz and social science

Last year I put on a very successful zombie event as part of the ESRCs festival of social science. There was a good turnout for my talk and film screening and quite a lot of press coverage, including at the discovery channel website and the register blog, both of which included plenty of ‘interesting’ comments.

Anyway this year I’m putting together a proposal for something to do with pub quizzes. A few friends of mine, one of whom happens to be a quant social scientist, have been doing a pub quiz for quite a while now. There happens to be two quizmasters at this quiz, a man and woman, and we suspected that the women was running a much tougher quiz. Being nerdy academics my friend started collecting data (ie beer sodden scoresheets) and we did some number crunching to conclude that our initial hypothesis was correct.

This also got me thinking about the pub quiz and how it fits in with British culture. It has been estimated that there are 22,400 pub quizzes in the UK, although actual data about the phenomenon is quite hard to come by. Some sociological questions might include, how does the pub quiz relate to class? to gender? to community? Is the pub quiz unique to the UK? what kinds of people volunteer massive amounts of time to run these things? and why?

These two strands taken together (a socio-cultural exploration of the pub quiz, and a quantitative analysis of a specific quiz to explore some of these themes) could make for an interesting and fun event which could help promote social science, and quantitative social science in particular as part of the 2012 festival. I’ve just had a meeting with the lit and phil who are keen to host again and I’ll start working on the proposal soon.



About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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