I stole the title of this post from Simon Chadwick's editorial in the November/December issue of Research World. It reminded me that I, like many young people, began my career as something of an idealist. My first two jobs were with nonprofits and then in 1984 I joined NORC at the University of Chicago, whose tagline was and still is, "Social Science Research in the Public Interest." I spent 11 years of my life there and learned an enormous amount before moving to what I still self-mockingly refer to "the dark side" in 1995.
I was reminded of this while reading Simon's editorial and was especially struck by this sentence:
Polls are where research loses its soul; commercial MR is where it forgets it has one; and social research is where we find it.
Well said, Simon.