The Social Science Approaches for Research and Engagement in Health Policy and Systems (SHAPES) Thematic Working Group (TWG) convenes activities and discussions to strengthen and raise the profile of social science approaches for research and engagement within the wider field of health policy and systems research (HPSR).
SHAPES was founded in 2011 when four networks (social science approaches, policy analysis, participatory action research, and realist evaluation) united under one TWG. The group brings together a diverse community of academics, policymakers and practitioners to discuss, debate and share experience and resources relating to the application of social science approaches in HPSR. Key concerns of the SHAPES community are ‘whose definitions count?’, ‘who makes the rules?’, and ‘who benefits from these systems and policies?’. We promote research and advocacy methods that are sensitive to context, amplify voices on the margins, and generate knowledge for real-world change in health and policy and systems.
SHAPES has an active Google Group where members circulate resources and engage in dialogue on social science issues in HPSR. Regular activities include:
- A fortnightly email newsletter;
- Blogs, individually commissioned and series, including the current SHAPES Blog Series co-hosted by HSG and the IHP platform;
- Publications, including occasional special issues of journal articles, such as Showcasing Social Science Approaches to Health Systems and Policy Research;
- Webinars and journal clubs, hosted by the ‘SHAPES clusters’ (see below).
Topic clusters within SHAPES:
- Complexity science and systems thinking – Ligia Paina and Jeff Glenn.
- Power – Veena Sriram, Walter Flores, Marta Schaaf, Stephanie Topp and Kerry Scott.
- LGBTQI – Simon Lewin, Benjamin Hanckel and Aruna Chakravatry.
- History – Jill Olivier and Erica Nelson.
- Working across disciplines – Jill Olivier.
- Policy analysis – Lucy Gilson and Johanna Hanefeld.
- Participatory action research – Kingsley Chikaphupha and Rene Loewenson.
- Strengthen and raise the profile of social science approaches within the wider field of HPSR.
- Build relationships between practitioners, academics and policymakers to strengthen the production and utilization of knowledge for health systems strengthening.
- Stimulate learning, innovation and capacity building, in particular for under-resourced researchers.