Invitation to tender┋Measurement of social and cultural infrastructure


Funded by the UK’s Department for Science, Innovation & Technology

The British Academy is commissioning a major new research element as part of its work theme on social and cultural infrastructure. The research will investigate how social and cultural infrastructure can be measured, and so enable a better articulation of its purpose, presence, scale and value.

Social and cultural infrastructure refers to the spaces, services and structures that support the quality of life of a nation, region, city or local community. These spaces, services and structures bring people together and strengthen the social and cultural fabric of communities. It is an area that has been brought to the fore by the Academy’s previous work on Cohesive Societies and the COVID Decade evidence review and policy reports.

The British Academy and Power to Change came together in early 2022 to collectively explore questions relating to social infrastructure and its value to different communities. The two organisations jointly published Space for Community: Strengthening our Social Infrastructure in January 2023. The report explores three aspects of social infrastructure: 1) the use of social infrastructure to support the social fabric of places, 2) treating social infrastructure as an infrastructure, and 3) defining the purpose of social infrastructure.

Following the culmination of this first phase, the British Academy is now seeking to commission research focused on the measurement of social and cultural infrastructure.

Scope of the research

The overarching research questions are:

  • What are the key features of social and cultural infrastructure that can and should be measured in order to more fully demonstrate its purpose, presence, scale and value?
  • How can this measurement be represented and operationalised in ways that enable policymakers and others to easily understand social and cultural infrastructure in ways that can directly inform policy decisions?

The research should seek to incorporate nuance, breadth and multi-layered thinking, partly through reflecting the depth and breadth of insight from across the SHAPE disciplines.

We envisage that this research commission will divide into distinct stages, as set out below:

1) defining parameters for the task

2) developing the measurement framework and any associated pilot testing that might be feasible

For further details on this research commission, please see the invitation to tender.

Eligibility requirements

The lead applicant must be a researcher in a discipline within the humanities or social sciences and must be either based at an eligible UK university or research institute or an independent researcher. The lead applicant must be of postdoctoral status or above (or have equivalent research experience). The lead applicant must be based in the UK and a co-applicant can be based elsewhere.

Projects can involve co-applicants and other participants. No individual may be a co-applicant on more than two projects under this call (nor may a PI be additionally a co-applicant on more than one other project).

Please note that PIs may not hold more than one British Academy award of a comparable nature at any one time.

Value and duration

We expect to make a single award of up to £100,000 (excluding VAT).

The research project must begin in October 2023, and the final research report is expected to be delivered by end August 2024.

The exact timetable for deliverables will be agreed upon with the successful applicant, and the research team will be required to engage closely and regularly with the British Academy throughout the award duration.

Application process

Applications must be submitted online using the British Academy's Grant Management System (GMS), Flexi-Grant®.

The deadline for submissions and UK institutional approval is on 20 September 2023, 17:00 BST. Please direct any queries to

We will be running a webinar 9.00-9.45am on 19 July 2023 to respond to any questions potential applicants may have. This page will be updated with the joining details of the webinar when they have been confirmed

Application date
11 months
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, Architecture and urbanism, Arts and Art history, History
Social sciences : Law, Economy, Geography, Management and Public administration, Political science, Information and Communication Sciences, Sociology