Policy & Politics Highlights collection August – October 2021

Sarah_Brown_credit_Evelyn_Sturdy
Image credit: Evelyn Sturdy at Unsplash

Sarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

One of the hallmarks of the Policy & Politics journal, which has been consistent across its 49 years of publishing, has been to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom and not take things at face value in developing our understanding of policymaking. Across diverse locations and contexts and employing a range of different methods, the journal is known for showcasing incisive analyses of the policy world which foreground the politics that underpin policy making. The three articles chosen for this quarter’s highlights are no exception as each, in different ways, push the boundaries presenting results that often challenge the prevailing view in their fields.

So in our first article The politics of intersectional practice: competing concepts of intersectionality, author Ashlee Christoffersen deconstructs the meanings of the term ‘intersectionality’ as it is applied in practice. She finds no fewer than five competing and contradictory interpretations. These results help to explain why intersectionality is thought to be such a challenging concept to apply. Through exposing these contestations, Christoffersen provides profound insight in concluding that understanding which of the different concepts of intersectionality is at play is crucial in that each has very different implications for intersectional marginalisation, and intersectional justice, with some interpretations actually serving to further entrench inequalities.

Not only does this article push the boundaries of received knowledge in its own field, but it also pushes the boundaries of the scope and inclusivity of Policy & Politics as a journal. Indeed, it is our hope that showcasing this article will help to forge a new avenue of work in this and related areas, in keeping with our vision to broaden P&P’s horizons.

In our second featured article on Promoting social goals through economisation? Social investment and the counterintuitive case of homelessness, author Francesco Laruffa sets the scene by describing how, within the welfare state literature, critics of social investment have argued that its economic logic replaces ‘social’ considerations (for example, focused on rights/needs). Consequently, conventional wisdom claims that this could reinforce the marginalisation of vulnerable populations, as they are unattractive ‘human capital’. However, through comparing EU initiatives in the homelessness field, Laruffa’s analysis reveals that, while social investment partially replaces values-based logics with the economic rationale, it involves the same ‘solutions’ as values-oriented approaches. In other words, preventing and combatting homelessness can be justified interchangeably following an ‘economic’ or a ‘social’ logic. So in a challenge to the critique within existing literature, Laruffa suggests that ‘social investment’ can be recast as a paradigm that attempts to promote the ‘social’ through its economisation.

Lastly, if the concept of policy entrepreneurs is at the forefront of boundary challenges, our final article by Giliberto Capano & Maria Tullia Galanti provides an incisive analysis of the concept which is at best found to be overstretched and fuzzy. In their article: From policy entrepreneurs to policy entrepreneurship: actors and actions in public policy innovation, the authors propose a more parsimonious conceptualisation by de-personalising entrepreneurial actions and instead focussing on a specific pattern of action whose main task is to promote innovation. Thus, policy entrepreneurship is conceptualised as a pattern of actions involving different types of actors focussed on innovation that is pursued by activities such as framing a problem, developing solutions, building a coalition in support, and seeking opportunities and attention.  In this way, the authors challenge the conventional views of agency in the policy process by focussing on the different conceptions of the work of policy entrepreneurs in the literature.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our highlights for the penultimate quarter of 2021. The articles featured here are free to download until 31st October 2021.

Keep an eye out for our fast track listings for new articles that push the frontiers of existing knowledge in public policy in our exciting new Special Issue coming in early 2022!

In the meantime, happy reading!

Highlights collection – free to access until 31 October 2021:

The politics of intersectional practice: competing concepts of intersectionality
Ashlee Christoffersen

Promoting social goals through economisation? Social investment and the counterintuitive case of homelessness
Francesco Laruffa

From policy entrepreneurs to policy entrepreneurship: actors and actions in public policy innovation
Giliberto Capano and Maria Tullia Galanti

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