Street-level bureaucrats (SLB) are those workers who have direct contact with citizens while delivering services to them, for example teachers, police, counsellors, and health workers. They are very important both for the state and for citizens for several reasons. for example, they are the “face” of the state for many citizens, they are the “last mile” individuals in the policy implementation process and in the hierarchy of the organisation, and they also have significant power to allocate resources. Consequently many research studies, including ours, analyse street-level bureaucrats’ behaviour and how they interact with citizens. In our recent research article in Policy & Politics on How street-level bureaucrats use Conceptual Systems to categorise clients, we observe one specific aspect of SLBs’ work: how they classify types of citizens to decide who should receive each kind of service. We analyse this phenomenon by observing teachers. Continue reading →
I’m Doug Cooley, and have just finished a one-year Masters in Public Policy at the University of Bristol, home to the Policy & Politics journal. I hope to use this MPP as a basis to conduct future academic or practical policy work. During the year, I have focussed my research on various theoretical concepts, including policy transfer, and power structures in the policy process, applying these concepts to neoliberal mechanisms in the Global Financial System, and to the UK’s local governance structures. I am delighted to have won the Policy & Politics prize for achieving the highest overall mark on the unit ‘Power, Politics and the Policy Process’ as part of the MPP programme.
In this post, I highlight a piece of my work which explores the link between policy transfer, which I define as replication of policy instruments between polities, and institutional isomorphism, or the convergence of organisational structures and governance mechanisms. The relative lack of literature on the link is surprising, given how intuitively similar these ideas are, and the different normative connotations of the two concepts. Policy transfer emphasises the benefits of learning between polities, whereas institutional isomorphism is seen as a constraining influence on innovation. Continue reading →
My name is Lara and I’m currently about to enter my final year of the BSc Social Policy with Criminology undergraduate degree at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol (home of the Policy & Politics journal). Winning the student prize for the ‘Understanding Public Policy’ unit came as quite a surprise, but I’m thrilled and honoured to have been chosen. All of my peers are brilliant thinkers and so very talented, so to win has given me a lot of confidence in my academic ability.
One of the main things I loved about the ‘Understanding Public Policy’ unit was the ability to write about such a broad variety of topics. One of the essays I enjoyed the most focused on two key questions around power within policymaking in the realm of behavioural economics – who is given the authority to make decisions on behalf of the greater good, and why are those decisions considered the right ones to make? Continue reading →
Policy & Politics is a top ranked international journal based at the School for Policy Studies. It has been publishing leading edge research on public policy and politics for 49 years and is keen to engage with young researchers early in their careers: starting with you!
So, in collaboration with our teaching staff, we’re delighted to announce two student prizes in 2021 at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Continue reading →
Over the past few decades, numerous large scale studies have considered the differences in third sector development between different countries, based on welfare policy, sources of funding and size of the sector. However, these studies categorise countries at the nation-state level, which obscures significant differences in third sector ecosystems within countries characterised by federal or devolved administrations. Quebec and Scotland have frequently been compared in relation to their sovereignty movements, but in our recent paper in Policy & Politics, we posit that these similarities go further, in shaping the structure and ideology of the third sector that put them at odds with their national/ ‘parent’ state contexts.
In our article we therefore ask: How can we understand the development of parallel models of the third sector in Scotland and Quebec that diverge from the dominant discourses and structures of the UK and Canadian models? We apply a framework of institutional logics (or the rules, norms of behaviour, identities and values that shape organisations’ and individuals’ understanding of their social world) in order to explore this key question. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
All articles featured in this blog post are free to access until 31 October 2021
Introducing Elizabeth Koebele: our new Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno.
I am thrilled to have begun serving as Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics in January 2021. I have spent the last few months taking over this position from my colleague, Oscar Berglund, who now serves as one of the journal’s co-editors. As many of us are beginning to plan for our policy and politics-focused courses next semester, I figured what better way to celebrate joining the P&P team than to share with you some of my favorite Policy & Politics articles that make a great fit on a variety of syllabi? I hope this saves you time and effort in mining our recent articles, while also ensuring your course materials reflect the latest research from the frontiers of the discipline.
My initial suggestions are structured around two general topics that I hope many of you find yourself teaching or studying: one focused on knowledge, and one focused on actors/influence. I’m also sharing my top picks for readings on an increasingly popular policy topic: policy diffusion/transfer. In each case, I’ve recommended three articles that represent some of the most significant research we’ve published recently. Please let me know what you think when you’re compiling your reading lists for the start of the academic year. I’d value your feedback and suggestions for future topics to cover! Continue reading →
My recent article in Policy & Politics, The politics of intersectional practice: Competing concepts of intersectionality, shares findings from the first empirical study internationally to explore how both practitioners and policymakers themselves understand how to operationalise ‘intersectionality’. I found that there are five contradictory uses of ‘intersectionality’, some of which further equality for intersectionally marginalised communities, while others actually deepen inequalities (Table 1). In this post I share key recommendations arising for both policy and ‘practice’ (the work of third sector practitioners – delivering services, community development and policy advocacy). These findings also hold relevance for public sector practitioners and grassroots organisations. Continue reading →
The idea that public policy should be informed by scientific knowledge has great appeal. There is a growing understanding among politicians, the media and the public that decision making—especially on complex issues such as climate change and biodiversity—must include a scientific evaluation of the underlying problems and the available solutions. The reasoning is that, without science, public policies are most likely doomed to be irrational or ideological or both. To dissociate themselves from such “bad policy making” and to express their commitment to science in the policy process, policy makers and analysts have come to adopt the slogan “evidence-based policy” (EBP). Continue reading →
Oscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Chris Weible Co-editors of Policy & Politics
We are delighted to announce that Policy & Politics has achieved an impressive result in the 2021 Journal Citation Reports with an Impact Factor of 3.750. This places the Journal firmly in the top quartile of international journals in political science and in the second quartile in public administration.
This fantastic outcome is testimony to the hard work and skill of the previous co-editors: Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews, coupled with the outstanding quality of research produced by our authors, the meticulous scrutiny of our peer reviewers, and the hard work of the Policy & Politics and Policy Press team. We would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to all. Continue reading →