Updating your course reading lists? Check out our essential reading recommendations for Public Policy, Politics and Social Policy from Policy & Politics

All articles featured in this blog post are free to access until 31 October 2021

KoebeleIntroducing Elizabeth Koebele: our new Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno.

I am thrilled to have begun serving as Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics in January 2021. I have spent the last few months taking over this position from my colleague, Oscar Berglund, who now serves as one of the journal’s co-editors. As many of us are beginning to plan for our policy and politics-focused courses next semester, I figured what better way to celebrate joining the P&P team than to share with you some of my favorite Policy & Politics articles that make a great fit on a variety of syllabi? I hope this saves you time and effort in mining our recent articles, while also ensuring your course materials reflect the latest research from the frontiers of the discipline.

My initial suggestions are structured around two general topics that I hope many of you find yourself teaching or studying: one focused on knowledge, and one focused on actors/influence. I’m also sharing my top picks for readings on an increasingly popular policy topic: policy diffusion/transfer. In each case, I’ve recommended three articles that represent some of the most significant research we’ve published recently. Please let me know what you think when you’re compiling your reading lists for the start of the academic year. I’d value your feedback and suggestions for future topics to cover! Continue reading Updating your course reading lists? Check out our essential reading recommendations for Public Policy, Politics and Social Policy from Policy & Politics

Applying intersectionality in policy and practice

ChristoffersenAshlee Christoffersen

My recent article in Policy & Politics, The politics of intersectional practice: Competing concepts of intersectionality, shares findings from the first empirical study internationally to explore how both practitioners and policymakers themselves understand how to operationalise ‘intersectionality’. I found that there are five contradictory uses of ‘intersectionality’, some of which further equality for intersectionally marginalised communities, while others actually deepen inequalities (Table 1). In this post I share key recommendations arising for both policy and ‘practice’ (the work of third sector practitioners – delivering services, community development and policy advocacy). These findings also hold relevance for public sector practitioners and grassroots organisations.

Operationalising intersectionality

While race, class, gender and gender identity, disability status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, migration status, and faith continue to be important markers of inequality, and often increasingly so, they have predominantly been addressed separately. The idea of ‘intersectionality’ is to focus on the ways that they operate simultaneously and shape one another. Intersectionality names Black women’s theory and activism concerning experiences of gendered racism and racialised sexism. This theory has long been articulated by Black women not only in the US where the term emerged, but also in the UK. Intersectionality is the understanding that inequalities are interdependent and indivisible from one another: ‘race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability, and age operate not as unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but rather as reciprocally constructing phenomena’.

Kimberlé Crenshaw used the term ‘intersectionality’ to describe the ways that Black women’s experiences and identities are marginalised by tendencies to treat race and gender as mutually exclusive categories in antidiscrimination law, feminism, and antiracist movements, with all focusing on the most powerful/privileged members of groups (e.g. white women) and taking them as representatives of the group as a whole.

This failure to consider intersectionality is still widespread in the UK. For example, interventions concerning domestic abuse have tended to focus on heterosexual relationships among cisgender people, so members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex (LGBTQI)+ community have been largely excluded from efforts to mitigate the issue and to provide services to those affected.

Since little progress has been made with the separate single issue approach (targeting only one inequality such as gender or race) in terms of achieving equality for the most marginalised, there is growing recognition that pursuing social justice requires policy makers and organisations to engage with intersectionality. Yet while interest in it grows, intersectionality is widely thought to be a challenging theory to apply, and it represents a puzzle to policy makers and practitioners who work in both issue area and ‘equality strand’ silos (of e.g. race, gender, and disability). In the UK, intersectionality has been steadily growing in popularity, partly owing to the Equality Act 2010, which brought together anti-discrimination legislation on separate issues, and raised awareness of multiple inequalities. Yet, the meanings of intersectionality and the ways that it is used are a subject of debate: for example, it is often emptied of its attention to race , and social justice. The use of ‘intersectionality’ to describe intersections other than race/gender is not uncontroversial.

Competing concepts of intersectionality

The project identified that there are five competing applied concepts of intersectionality that circulate in UK third sector equality organising and policy. Given that there are different concepts of intersectionality used, it is important to carefully examine the specific meanings given to intersectionality in equality policy and practice.

Table intersectionality part 1Intersectionality table 1.2

Recommendations for policy and practice

Inersectionality Table 2.1

Recommendations to policymakers and funders

  • Explore and specify the applied concepts of intersectionality that you use: advocate for ‘intersections of strands’ and pan equality concepts instead of generic, multi-strand and diversity within ones. Intersectionality can be applied in context-specific interventions
  • Fund intersectional organisations and alliances, which present models for intersectional practice
  • Hold single issue equality organisations accountable for facilitating meaningful participation and self-representation of intersectionally marginalised groups

I am a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and former practitioner in the equality third sector. Find out more about my research here and here @DrAshlee_C.

You can read the original research in Policy & Politics:

Christoffersen, Ashlee (2021) ‘The politics of intersectional practice: competing concepts of intersectionality’,  Policy & Politics, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/030557321X16194316141034

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested to read:

Introduction: superdiversity, policy and governance in Europe

Managing superdiversity? Examining the intercultural policy turn in Europe

Why evidence-based policy is political 

SimonsArno Simons

The idea that public policy should be informed by scientific knowledge has great appeal. There is a growing understanding among politicians, the media and the public that decision making—especially on complex issues such as climate change and biodiversity—must include a scientific evaluation of the underlying problems and the available solutions. The reasoning is that, without science, public policies are most likely doomed to be irrational or ideological or both. To dissociate themselves from such “bad policy making” and to express their commitment to science in the policy process, policy makers and analysts have come to adopt the slogan “evidence-based policy” (EBP). Continue reading Why evidence-based policy is political 

2021 Impact Factor announcement: Read our most highly cited articles

P&P 2021 EditorsOscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Chris Weible
Co-editors of Policy & Politics

We are delighted to announce that Policy & Politics has achieved an impressive result in the 2021 Journal Citation Reports with an Impact Factor of 3.750. This places the Journal firmly in the top quartile of international journals in political science and in the second quartile in public administration.

This fantastic outcome is testimony to the hard work and skill of the previous co-editors: Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews, coupled with the outstanding quality of research produced by our authors, the meticulous scrutiny of our peer reviewers, and the hard work of the Policy & Politics and Policy Press team. We would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to all. Continue reading 2021 Impact Factor announcement: Read our most highly cited articles

Investing in social justice?

LaruffaFrancesco Laruffa

Social investment is an increasingly influential approach – both among policymakers and social policy scholars – which emphasizes the economic benefits of welfare state interventions. Improving people’s education, for example, not only ameliorates their wellbeing but also their productive potential, thereby contributing to economic growth.

Critics of this approach have argued that social investment tends to replace value-based considerations (e.g. based on notions of needs and rights) with an economic evaluation of social policy, e.g. conceiving individuals narrowly and instrumentally as “human capital”. By substituting “social” logic with cost-benefit calculations, social investment may also lead to the adoption of policies that reinforce the marginalisation of vulnerable groups. Indeed, the economic rationale suggests focusing policies on those groups that offer the highest returns on investment in terms of employment and productivity. But what about deprived groups who have no valuable “human capital” to offer? Continue reading Investing in social justice?

What Do We Know About How Policies Spread?

MallinsonDaniel J. Mallinson

Since the 1960s, political scientists from across the globe have been studying how and why policies spread. This substantial body of research begs the question, what have we learned? My project aims to answer that question, at least in part. It finds both substantial growth in the literature and gaps that remain to be filled.

I conducted a meta-review of policy diffusion studies that focus on the American states. By casting a wide net using Google Scholar and Web of Science, I identified all (to my knowledge) studies published between 1990 and 2018 that referred to “policy diffusion” and “berry and berry.” Berry and Berry are important because their 1990 study of state lotteries introduced the unified model of policy diffusion. Essentially, this model combined the internal characteristics of states with influences external to the states to explain policy adoption. Over time, scholars also recognized that the attributes of the policy innovations themselves condition how far and how quickly they spread. Continue reading What Do We Know About How Policies Spread?

Virtual issue on Central-local relations

Sarah_Brown_credit_Evelyn_Sturdy
Image credit: Evelyn Sturdy at Unsplash

Sarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

In our second virtual issue of 2021, we focus on central-local relations and feature some of the latest research on that topic from a range of different perspectives and three quite different political systems. Against a backdrop of austerity coupled with an imminent global recession resulting from the pandemic, the politics of central-local relations and their impact on policy are, we believe, even more topical than ever. So we hope that you enjoy this short collection featuring some of our most recent scholarship on this theme. Continue reading Virtual issue on Central-local relations

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 7 – Key Themes In The (Possible) Move to Co-production and Co-creation in Public Management

ewan-ferlie-2.xaf3c0b17Ewan Ferlie

In my concluding article for the forthcoming special issue on Strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation , I review the contributions from the other articles in the collection  and considers what has been learnt. Building on the questions raised in the introductory paper, my article considers:

  • basic definitions of co-production and co-creation along with the claim made of a move from lower order co-production to higher level co-creation. It is argued that it is not clear whether the organisational capabilities needed to support such a major transition are as yet present in an intensive and extensive enough form. The evidence from the empirical and case-based papers in the edition is mixed.
  • the link between co-creation and co-production and different models of strategic management which may help manage organisational wide transitions and get beyond small scale projects. The article considers why strategic management is important and which schools are the most promising. The public value school is seen as a critical ‘lynchpin’ (as the goal of co-production and co-creation activity may be to create public value enhancing innovations). In addition, the strategic planning and culture schools are seen as promising. The question of how strategy is formed in diffuse multi agency networks as opposed to single agencies is an important and unresolved one so it may be helpful to bring in additional literature on cooperative forms of strategy.
  • the potential role of digitalisation in the move to co-production and co-creation with ‘open platforms’ being designed by government and the third sector seen as promising;

Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 7 – Key Themes In The (Possible) Move to Co-production and Co-creation in Public Management

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 6 – Strategic Management as an Enabler of Co-creation in Public Services

ongaro et alEdoardo Ongaro, Alessandro Angelo Sancino, Irene Pluchinotta, Hannah Williams, Martin Kitchener and Ewan Ferlie

In our recent contribution to the special issue on Strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation, our article offers an important contribution to the integration of strategic management and co-creation by demonstrating how the co-creation of public value may be enabled by strategic management.

We demonstrate this by conceptually elaborating, and then empirically illustrating, the potential for models of strategic public management to enable the co-creation of public service solutions that enhance public value. Our main research question explores how and under what conditions the adoption of models of strategic management in Public Service Organisations (PSOs) can support and enable the co-creation of public service solutions. Through our analysis, we aim to fill a gap in the literature by considering the importance of an underlying strategic orientation towards value creation that provides a value base upon which to embed these approaches within PSOs. Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 6 – Strategic Management as an Enabler of Co-creation in Public Services

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 5 – Digital platforms for the co-creation of public value

meijer & boonAlbert Meijer and Wouter Boon

The private sector is changing towards a new model of production: the platform model. Industrial companies, such as Ford, are regarded as outdated and digital technology companies such as Uber and AirBnB, are dominating discussions about organisational models. These tech companies rely on the platform logic for the production of services. They rule the world economy and generate huge profits for their shareholders. In our recent article in this special issue on Strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation, we ask: if this organisational model is so successful, should the public sector not start using the same model to provide public value?

So what’s so special about the platform model? Central to platform organisations is their capacity to connect numerous users and coordinate their interactions. The hierarchic and sequential logic of the Fordist model is replaced by a horizontal and parallel logic. This mode of organisation is facilitated by platform technologies which process interactions between the many users accurately and fast. Our understanding of how this model works for the private sector is becoming firmly established but we still know very little about the value of this model for the public sector. Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 5 – Digital platforms for the co-creation of public value