Today's society is on the brink of new possibilities, yet it is also beset with challenges and problems. Banks are in trouble. Climate change threatens. The population is increasingly elderly. New health technologies pose new ethical questions. Globalization has changed the way we live. Public issues and private troubles are as interlaced as ever. And, big or small, problems need solutions based on accurate and suitable information, and on a proper understanding of the issues involved. This volume, consisting of specially-commissioned essays on topics of prime concern by leading social scientists at the cutting-edge of their respective research fields, takes a considered look at a range of problems facing society today, and considers possible solutions. It illuminates why a social scientific understanding gives us a grasp on a topic that would not be provided by those working in the fields of science, humanities or the arts; in other words, this book makes plain what is distinctive and thus invaluable about a social science perspective. Social scientists may be forgiven for being troubled by UK trends in funding undergraduate training and the 'impact' agenda in research. This volume, with the support of the Academy of Social Sciences, is timely in not only analysing pressing problems, but also helping make the case regarding the indispensability of the social sciences, and the rigour which the social sciences can inspire in our understanding of the world.