Policy & Politics: Serving and Enhancing our Metacommunities

Oscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Christopher M. Weible

In the study of ecological systems, there is a concept called metacommunities. The idea is that a species might be dispersed in different yet interconnected communities.  These metacommunities might emerge and grow for reasons of fit, space, survival, or chance.  These metacommunities interconnect through some species traversing between them either rarely or habitually. Over time metacommunities might also evolve and adapt to their particular niches. For those who care about supporting ecological systems that might be dispersed in interconnected niches, metacommunities provide a broad language and perspective to help visualize, understand, and govern.

As editors for Policy & Politics, we view this metaphor of metacommunities apt for describing the broadly defined field of public policy, which is dispersed in many communities, each with their own research approaches, lexicons, and traditions.  We also see that some scholars navigate between communities more than others.   In describing academia, we often refer to these metacommunities as silos where some silos are more isolated or connected than others as well as some silos existing within other silos.  Similar to metacommunities, silos might emerge and grow as scholars search for space to develop their ideas, self-sort with others of similar orientations, and more.

Policy & Politics cares about and endeavours to support the growth and maturation of each of the different communities in the field. We do not want to mash them together, violate their integrity, or interfere with their efforts to achieve what they envision.    Instead, our goal is to support the metacommunities that comprise the study of public policy and offer new paths for their growth. 

Yet, there are many barriers to growth in the field that we aspire to overcome. One is the lack of communication between our metacommunities.  Such barriers to communication include lexicon often linked to the diverse epistemological, ontological, and methodological orientations that shape and are shaped by how we approach our phenomena.  Other barriers include preconceptions that echo sometimes generations of scholars and through the stories told by supervisors and their supervisors’ supervisors that can amplify the myth of fragmented communities rather than interconnected metacommunities.  Sometimes the barriers might even be moored to traditions or prior ways of knowing that can block new ideas or ways of knowing.

The scope and purpose of Policy & Politics is to provide a comprehensive outlet for quality scholarship from the metacommunities comprising the study of public policy and to serve as a bridge between them. We aim to help overcome many of the barriers to the field’s growth and to support scholarship of varied epistemological, ontological, and methodological orientations. We strive to support and connect scholarship from diverse perspectives including but not bound to:

  • Countries from the global south and north
  • Mainstream and new and emerging theories,
  • Interpretive and mainstream approaches,
  • Micro to macro perspectives,
  • Issues of practical and theoretical objectives, and
  • Normative issues from democracy to critical theory.

By embracing these perspectives and many more, Policy & Politics acts as a hub for linking our metacommunities in a common struggle for the realization and sustaining of human dignity and quality of life for all.  

Policy & Politics vows to its contributors, reviewers, and readers an editorial process that is as quick as possible, fair and thoughtful, constructive, and tailored to the betterment of the scholarship under review.  Given our embrace of the comprehensive coverage of public policy and diversity in research approaches, we recognize and accept different criteria in gauging and improving scholarship. We  adhere to some simple criteria expected of all published work including: (i) publicness and transparency in all aspects of its scholarship and (ii) substantial contributions to our understanding of public policy and/or its research approaches.

We seek manuscripts that contribute to the study of policy and politics through advancing its varied communities, while also communicating and engaging the broader field.   We hope to promote more synthesized and integrated forms of knowledge that advances the study of public policy and contribute and inform its practice.  We recognize that our job as editors will not be easy with our editorial approach open to constant learning and adaptation as we strive to serve the varied metacommunities in the field. 

We cannot do this alone and look to you as authors, referees, and readers to help surmount the most pressing challenges inhibiting the continued advancement in the study of public policy and its practice. Together we can make Policy & Politics a world-leading journal and help advance knowledge that is comprehensive, inclusive, and relevant.

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