At the time of preparing this special double issue of Anthropology in Action, British anthropologists are debating the implications of current British government policy aimed at evaluating the influence of academic disciplines. One of the key functions of the Research Evaluation Framework (REF) is to measure the ‘impact’ of a subject-area’s activity, the extent to which it can be shown to have economic and social effects beyond the quoting circles of colleagues in print or at conferences. The merits or otherwise of the REF can be debated. Arguably, however, it misses one of the key areas where a subject such as anthropology can have a significant effect on the world: the teaching of its basic concepts, both in universities and in other contexts where cultural ‘relativism’ and the recognition of other legitimate ways of being in the world can gain purchase.
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