Does political control increase bureaucracies’ responsiveness to public pressures?

Saar Alon-Barkat & Sharon Gilad
Saar Alon-Barkat & Sharon Gilad

Nowadays, probably more than ever, bureaucratic organizations and senior civil servants are directly exposed to public pressures, including media coverage, public protest and shifts in public opinion. In our recent article in Policy & Politics entitled Political Control or legitimacy deficit? Bureaucracies’ symbolic response to bottom-up public pressures, we explore what makes a bureaucracy more or less attentive and responsive to bottom-up public pressures – a question that stems from our broader concern with the responsiveness of government institutions.

In our article, we suggest two possible explanations for bureaucracies’ attentiveness to public pressures. On the one hand, one might expect higher levels of political control to render bureaucracies more attentive to public pressures in order to preempt intervention by politicians who are reliant on public support. On the other hand, regulation scholars have suggested that autonomous bureaucratic organizations (such as independent regulatory agencies), which are subjected to lower degrees of political control, are nonetheless eager to display their attentiveness Continue reading

Inspired by the issue: The challenges to operationalising gender justice in India

Geetanjali Gangoli
Geetanjali Gangoli

As a friend of Policy & Politics, former editor and someone who has (very) recently stepped down as Chair of the Policy & Politics Management Board, the journal is of particular interest to me. The October issue has an article by Keerty Nakray that speaks directly to my research interests on feminisms, gender and India: Gender budgeting and public policy: the challenges to operationalizing gender justice in India.)

Nakray’s article raises the important issue of gender budgeting in the Indian context, and the role of feminist intervention in introducing this concept to India. Gender budgeting refers to not only a gendered analysis of the national (or state level) budgets, but at a broader and much more conceptual level, to locating gender relations within the economy as a whole. Nakray also raises Continue reading

Talking public health

Katherine Smith
Katherine Smith

Policy & Politics talking public health in Milan last month with Editorial Advisory Board member Katherine Smith

In a session jointly sponsored by Policy & Politics and the University of Glasgow Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, leading international experts explored how public health professionals perceive the role of the alcohol, tobacco and food industries in shaping public policy. . The international panel of speakers, appearing at the 8th European Public Health Conference which took place in Milan on 14-17 October was chaired by Professor Oliver Razum, Dean of the School of Public Health at Bielefeld University, Germany. It included Professor Nicholas Freudenberg of City University New York, Dr Lori Dorfman from the Berkeley Media Studies Group and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, Dr Benjamin Hawkins from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr Heide Weishaar from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow and Policy & Politics’ Editorial Advisory Board member Dr Kat Smith from the Global Public Health Unit, University of Edinburgh.   The session was organised by Heide and Kat along with Dr Shona Hilton of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow. This blog sums up the issues discussed and sets out an agenda for future research in this area.

Tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries – Why are they viewed so differently?
Tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries – Why are they viewed so differently?

One of the few indisputable truths in life is that we will all, eventually, die but what we will die of, and at what age, is changing across the world, with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) increasingly accounting for excessive morbidity and mortality burdens. The growing prevalence of NCDs is triggering substantial policy concern, evident, for example, in the 2011 UN high level meeting on NCDs. Yet, it is clear there are very different ways of thinking about this ‘epidemiological transition’: it has been framed, on the one hand, as a consequence of the choices that individuals make and, on the other, as a consequence of the strategies Continue reading

Community Resilience and Crisis Management: Policy Lessons from the Ground

Nicole George
Nicole George

Nicole George and Alastair Stark (University of Queensland) discuss their  recent contribution to the journal, Community Resilience and Crisis Management: policy lessons from the ground

The last months of 2010 and the first months of 2011 are remembered in Queensland as the ’summer of sorrow’. During this period, an unprecedented flood emergency inundated 78% of the north-eastern state’s territory. More than 60 lives were lost. 6 billion dollars of damage was done to public infrastructure while private insurance payouts to home-owners and businesses totalled more than 2 billion dollars.

Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city, did not escape this natural disaster. By the second week of January, residents and business owners in low-lying suburbs were caught off-guard as a flood moved rapidly down the Brisbane River.  They hastily evacuated what possessions they could, then watched with a sense of disbelief as muddy waters rose through their streets and two days later receded. When they could return to their water and mud sodden homes, and began to pick through the chaos of destroyed belongings, the true extent of the emergency became real for many.

In the days that followed, flood waters were replaced by floods of citizen-volunteers who gathered spontaneously in affected Continue reading

Setting the stage for another reform? Changing narratives around disability benefit recipients in the UK

Zach Morris
Zach Morris

by Zach Morris, School of Social Welfare, University of Berkeley, USA

The Department of Work and Pensions recently released the statistics for those who died after being found “fit for work,” and thus ineligible for disability benefits in the U.K. The Guardian reports that nearly 90 people a month are dying after being found fit for work. Caution is due, however, before interpreting the outcome of the assessment process as the cause of these deaths. Yet, the emergence of these figures and their wide reporting in the press shed light on how the public is coming to perceive the country’s recent experiment with disability benefit cuts. The growing attention to this issue could lead to increasing support for disability benefit recipients, which, as reported in my P&P article on the topic and shown below, has been in decline for many years. If so, now may prove an opportune time for political entrepreneurs Continue reading