Policy & Politics announces the 2018 winners of the Best Paper prize and best Early Career paper prize published in 2017

Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews, co-editors of Policy & Politics

We are delighted to announce that the winners of our Ken Young prize for the best paper published in 2017 are Selen Ercan, Carolyn Hendriks and John Boswell for their article on Studying public deliberation after the systemic turn: the crucial role for interpretive research (free to access until 24 May 2018).

In this excellent article, the authors seek to make sense of the complex nature of deliberation and the complexity of deliberative democratic systems.  In doing so, they bring together two hitherto separate strands of literature – the empirical turn and the systemtic turn – which have previously ‘pulled in different directions.’  In seeking to bring the two turns together, the authors highlight a number of important methodological questions.  They ask: ‘how can we identify and portray the sites, agents and discursive elements that comprise a deliberative system, how can we study connections and transmissions across different sites of a deliberative system, and how can we understand the impact of the broader socio- political context on both specific deliberative sites and the entire deliberative system?’

To answer these questions, the authors adopt an innovative approach and draw upon interpretivist methods in order to ‘better capture the sites of a deliberative system’, ‘important deliberative agents, and understanding their experiences, beliefs and practices’, and to ‘developing an understanding of the discursive elements – the arguments, ideas, claims and justifications – that prevail within a deliberative system’.

The net result of this approach is an article that is theoretically significant and methodologically innovative.  Theoretically, the authors demonstrate the utility of studying the two ‘turns’ in the field of deliberative democracy in a more iterative manner.  Methodologically, the authors address existing criticisms of interpretivist methods to demonstrate their clear potential as a means of studying complex deliberative systems, and the extent to which they can complement or add value to a multi-method research agenda.  As such, the paper makes an important contribution to the fields of deliberative democracy and interpretivist political studies.

Finally, the article provides the foundation for an important new research agenda, and concludes by identifying two key questions that scholars should consider: ‘How should empirical researchers navigate the normative agenda of deliberative democracy?’ and ‘What are the possibilities and limitations of linking different kinds of approaches to studying deliberative democracy?’  For anyone wishing to take on this challenge, the findings and lessons of this article provide an invaluable guide.

And the winner of our Bleddyn Davies prize for the best Early Career paper published in 2017 is Rikki John Dean for his article on Beyond radicalism and resignation: the competing logics for public participation in policy decisions (free to access until 24 May 2018).

In this excellent paper, Rikki Dean explores an aspect of public policy that is central to contemporary policy making – public participation. The need for greater public participation in politics and public services is advocated strongly across the globe by different constituencies. Attempts to engage the public are underpinned by a variety of ideological influences and policy applications, leading to tensions and misconceptions about what public participation could and should look like. These competing constructions of participation are rarely given much attention, particularly when it comes to formulating typologies of participatory mechanisms. In this well-crafted position piece, Rikki Dean redresses this gap. He does not make the case for or against participation in general, nor any particular version of participation. Instead, he presents competing understandings of what might be reasonably argued to be legitimate forms of participation, in which those involved could be said to be engaged on genuine terms. This contribution advances our understanding of public participation by offering greater clarity regarding the ways participation can be constructed. It offers the potential to improve participatory practice, for instance by reducing tensions that result from often unacknowledged definitional conflicts in real world participatory initiatives. This is a fabulous article from a worthy winner of this year’s early career prize.

Ercan, SA, Hendriks, CM, Boswell, J (2017) Studying public deliberation after the systemic turn: The crucial role for interpretive research, Policy & Politics, vol 45, no 2, 195–212.

Dean RJ (2017) Beyond radicalism and resignation: the competing logics for public participation in policy decisions, Policy & Politics, vol 45, no 2, 213–30.


For more information on the background to our prizes and our judging criteria, please visit our website.

For details on our previous winners you can find them here:

Policy & Politics announces the 2017 winners of the Early Career and Best Paper Prizes

Policy & Politics 2016 best article prizes announced!

2015 paper prizes are announced!

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

Improving policy implementation through collaborative policymaking

Marketing practices and the reconfiguration of public action

Citizen participation and changing governance: cases of devolution in England

Evidence translation: an exploration of policy makers’ use of evidence



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