It’s all in the timing: Chairing a Bristol West hustings

Sarah Childs
Sarah Childs

by Sarah Childs, Professor of Politics and Gender at University of Bristol.
This blog was originally posted on PolicyBristol. Reposting with kind permission.

The last time I’d been here it had been for ‘What the Frock’.  I half expected Bristol’s very own platinum-blonde award winning comedian Jayde Adams to start serenading from behind a velvet curtain. However, on this sultry spring evening at the Square Club in Clifton, Bristol, my job was to chair the Institute for Arts and Ideas’ Bristol West Hustings.

Seven parliamentary candidates were present. Sitting to my left: the incumbent Stephen Williams (Lib Dem); Thangham Debbonaire (Labour), Darren Hall (Greens) and Paul Turner (UKIP). Sitting to my right: Claire Hiscott (Conservative); Dawn Parry (Independent) and Stewart Weston (Left Unity).

The candidates’ backgrounds, ages, marital status, and occupation, are already in the public domain. Their personal manifestos were recently summarised in a Bristol Post review. Collectively, there is much agreement Continue reading

Policy networks – an idea whose time has come?

Kathryn Oliver
Kathryn Oliver

by  Dr Kathryn Oliver, Provost Fellow in Knowledge and Policy Networks at University College London.

With a general election just around the corner, everyone is on high alert for scandals. No one (well, ok – everyone except the politicians) wants to see another Bullingdon Club revelation, or a phone-hacking story. While there are a myriad ways for a politician to damage their credibility, it seems that old-boy’s networks are pretty widely understood to be Bad News.  Getting a job or any other benefit through a friend, a school-mate, a wife, or a man you met down the pub is – however usual – frowned on.

But human beings, like all primates, are social beings. This does not stop being the case just because people have got decision-making tasks. Interpersonal connections are known to influence everything from where policymakers find evidence, create agendas, develop policies – in fact, as our systematic review showed, every part of the policy process. Continue reading

Research With and For Marginalised Communities

Andrew Ryder
Andrew Ryder

by Andrew Ryder, Fellow at the University of Bristol, Associate Fellow at the Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham, and Visiting Professor at Corvinus University Budapest.

It is my contention that universities are institutions of central importance in maintaining humanist values. Alas we live in age where such a vision seems to be at risk through an audit culture which seems to commodify and tame knowledge production.  I come from a background of service provision and activism, as a teacher and later community organiser working for Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) communities, and have sought to base this work on emancipatory practice.  Since I started lecturing full time in higher education five years ago, through employment at the Corvinus University Budapest and a series of fellowships at the University of Bristol and Third Sector Research Centre, Birmingham, I have sought to fuse my previous background of emancipatory work with knowledge production. This has primarily been achieved by promoting collaborative research with GTR communities.  There is a growing interest in the co-production of research knowledge involving academics working in partnership with marginalised citizens and communities. However, the concept of community participation in research – certainly as equal partners – has been, and remains, contested. Is the knowledge generated ‘tainted’ by activism and engagement or can it be critical and objective? Continue reading

New forms of care work in European welfare states

Birgit Pfau Effinger
Birgit Pfau Effinger

by Birgit Pfau-Effinger, Professor of Sociology and Research Director of the Centre for Globalisation and Governance, University of Hamburg, and Professor for Comparative Welfare State Research, Dept. of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Southern Denmark

New welfare state policies for family care work

In the ‘housewife marriage’––the dominant form of the family in most mid-20th century European societies––senior care was mainly organised as unpaid work in the private family household, and was the wife’s duty. Since the 1990s most welfare states have strengthened the attendant social rights and infrastructure to the advantage of senior citizen care provision. As a consequence of this welfare state change, informal, unpaid work in the private sphere of the family has, in part, been transformed into formal, paid care work in the formal employment system outside the family. Several studies have analysed this change in a cross-national perspective (see Pavolini & Ranci, 2008).

It is often overlooked that many welfare states have also extended caring family members’ social rights and support (Ungerson, 2004). They have also introduced new hybrid forms of care work in family care that share some of the main features Continue reading

Squaring European workers’ mobility with occupational pensions?

Igor Guardiancich
Igor Guardiancich

In 2013, the University of Southern Denmark hired me together with a young Romanian colleague. While I was able to join straight away, she had to delay her arrival and extend her contract in Germany for an extra two months. Otherwise, she would have partly lost the entitlements accruing from her previous university’s pension scheme. This is because the minimum period to acquire occupational pension rights in Germany is five years. Hence, her right to the free movement of workers, guaranteed by the EU since 1958, was infringed.

The main problem lies with the coordination of social security rights across the EU. Even though the Coordination Regulations are the most advanced system worldwide that guarantees the portability of social security benefits for migrants, they cover statutory pension schemes only. By excluding supplementary, occupational pensions, they leave a regulatory gap in the protection of migrant workers under EU law. After decades of inertia, this suddenly changed in 2014 with the Supplementary Pension Rights Directive. Continue reading

Gender budgeting and public policy: the challenges to operationalising gender justice in India

Nakray
Keerty Nakray

Dr Keerty Nakray discusses her Policy & Politics article article Gender budgeting: does it really work?

This year marks the culmination of the Millennium Development Goals 2015 (MDGs) which provide the watershed for the global community to evaluate its development victories and failures. It is time to engage in collective reflections on lessons learnt and also to re-evaluate strategies in order to continue efforts to improve the quality of people’s lives. The MDGs reflected the consensus amongst world leaders to address eight goals: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; to achieve universal primary education; to promote gender equality and empower women; to reduce child mortality; to improve maternal health; to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development.

Gender equality was one of the ambitious goals of the MDGs with gender budgets receiving widespread endorsement as one of the most important strategies to achieve it. However, to the dismay of the feminist movement, gender Continue reading

Is there “one best way” to govern public services?

Catherine Durose
Catherine Durose

Catherine Durose discusses her latest article with co-authors Jonathan Justice and Chris Skelcher. Catherine is on the Editorial Board of Policy & Politics and is based at the University of Birmingham, UK.

What is the best way to organize the design and implementation of public policies and services? We do not pretend to know. Further, we would argue that a meaningful answer can be provided only contingently. It might therefore be more productive to ask a slightly different question: How can we go about figuring out – in a given situation at a specific time with respect to a specific complex of decisions and services – what the best way might be?

A century ago, industrial engineer Frederick Taylor famously argued that managers ought to determine the one best way to do any given task, and then train their subordinates to do things in precisely that best way. Contemporary scholars of organization, however, tend to agree that activities for which a single best way can be prescribed and implemented are very rare. In the 1950s, scholars in the rapidly suburbanizing U.S. debated whether local -government policies and services were better organized through a multiplicity of jurisdictions or through unitary consolidated metropolitan governments. Versions of that debate continue to this day, not only in the U.S. and Continue reading

Why approach contracted-out public services as a ‘strategic action field’?

James Rees, Rebecca Taylor and Christopher Damm
James Rees, Rebecca Taylor and Christopher Damm

by James Rees, Rebecca Taylor and Chris Damm

Researching the field of UK employment services

The research reported in our article UK Employment Services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field was carried out in 2012 as part of the ESRC-funded Third Sector Research Centre’s programme on the third sector’s role in public services. From the outset, we were aware that the third sector had long played a significant role in the mixed economy of employment services, and this was at a point when the UK Coalition government’s new Work Programme was being implemented. Our key interest was to explore the ways in which the third sector was involved in this new programme, and to examine to what extent its contribution could be seen as distinctively different to that of other sectors.

Internationally, few studies have directly addressed the role of sector of organisations, and where they do, they rarely do so in a comparative manner: focusing for instance on the third sector in isolation. Instead, we set out to explore how private, Continue reading