Peter Eckersley and Paul Tobin
How can we identify the real impact of austerity on policy? Our recent article in Policy & Politics bridges the gaps between research on ‘cutback management’, ‘policy capacity’ and ‘policy dismantling’, finding that front-line and often short-term challenges are being prioritised over more hidden and medium-term threats. The results suggest a ticking time-bomb for discovering the real impacts of austerity – particularly in sectors such as the environment, where policymakers need to stay on top of scientific and societal developments in order to design effective approaches to problems. Continue reading The Impact of Austerity on Policy Capacity in Local Government
Agnes Batory & Sara Svensson
Involving people in policy-making is generally a good thing. Policy-makers themselves often pay at least lip-service to the importance of giving citizens a say. In the academic literature, participatory governance has been, with some exaggeration, almost universally hailed as a panacea to all ills in Western democracies. In particular, it is advocated as a way to remedy the alienation of voters from politicians who seem to be oblivious to the concerns of the common man and woman, with an ensuing decline in public trust in government. Representation by political parties is ridden with problems, so the argument goes, and in any case it is overly focused on the act of voting in elections – a one-off event once every few years which limits citizens’ ability to control the policy agenda. On the other hand, various forms of public participation are expected to educate citizens, help develop a civic culture, and boost the legitimacy of decision-making. Consequently, practices to ensure that citizens can provide direct input into policy-making are to be welcomed on both pragmatic and normative grounds. Continue reading How not to conduct a consultation – and why asking the public is not always such a great idea
Text by Sarah Brown based on Paul Thomas’ article: Changing Experiences of responsibilisation and contestation within counter-terrorism policies: the British Prevent experience
Britain’s Prevent Strategy was arguably the first post 9/11 attempt to operationalise ‘soft’, preventative counter-terrorism policies and it has been since significantly studied and copied by other states. Such preventative counter-terrorism policies adopted internationally have proved to be controversial, as fierce criticisms of Britain’s Prevent strategy have shown.
In some cases, subsequent modifications have attempted to address these criticisms but the negative public understanding of Prevent has stuck, based on those original criticisms.
Continue reading So-called ‘toxic’ Prevent scheme to halt radicalisation has been misrepresented new research shows
For many organisations providing important public services, such as education, health care or community services, non-governing boards serve as the primary accountability mechanisms for daily management. The ‘boardisation of the public sector’, as Wilks described this, has evolved considerably. In my country of residence the Netherlands, for instance, the guesstimation is that we have almost 50,000 positions on those boards, six times as many as in democratically elected local councils. A large proportion of those positions have been created in the recent past. This would suggest that the board model is a major success.
Continue reading The Role of Public Sector Boards
Wahed Waheduzzaman, Sharif As-Saber and Mohotaj Binte Hamid
Countries around the world have been facing numerous challenges in promoting citizen participation in the governance process. Among them, elite capture is considered to be a significant stumbling block that undermines this process. ‘Elite capture’ is where elites in a society exercise disproportionate and unacceptable levels of influence over collective functions and manipulate decision making processes to secure undue benefits for themselves (see Wong, 2012).
Continue reading Do elites in a society exercise disproportionate and unacceptable levels of influence during collective decision making processes to secure undue benefits for themselves?
Bianca Rousselot, Thomas Milic and Adrian Vatter
Chances are, if you were in the “remain” and not in the “leave” camp, you probably think the referendum on Brexit should never have been called. And you probably wouldn’t be alone in that. Think back to the time when French and Dutch voters dealt a death blow to the EU Constitutional Treaty in the 2005 referendums. There were probably a good many people who thought the same thing then. As Qvortrup (2014) puts it, direct democracy “in recent years has thwarted cherished ideas and many a politician’s pet project”. Continue reading Direct Democracy: Political back-seat driving, without licence and under the influence?
William L. Swann and Seo Young Kim
Whether protecting a watershed, recovering from a natural disaster, or facilitating international trade, governments often need to collaborate to achieve policy goals. But resolving complex problems across fragmented jurisdictional landscapes involves overcoming significant collective action barriers.
Governments, like individuals, have an incentive to free ride on collective efforts and obtain benefits without contributing to the costs of public goods. For example, all governments in a region benefit from air pollution mitigation, but each government has an incentive to enjoy cleaner air without making the sacrifices to produce it. Continue reading Strategies for collaborating in fragmented governments
Christopher M. Weible and Karin Ingold
There are many ways that people relate to their government. People may vote for their formal representatives through elections. Through referendums and initiatives, people can vote directly to shape public policy. More indirect ways include through informal representation via political parties or interest groups and associations.
This blog addresses another extremely important way to relate government via “advocacy coalitions.”Advocacy coalitions are alliances of people around a shared policy goal. People associated with the same advocacy coalition have similar ideologies and worldviews and wish to change a given policy (concerning health, environmental, or many other issues) in the same direction. Continue reading What are advocacy coalitions and why do they matter?
Nuno Oliviera and Beatriz Padilla
Superdiversity has been recognised as a common feature of urban spaces in globalized cities around the world today. The relationship between superdiversity as a social phenomenon and the local policies that frame this reality is still emerging.
Our recent Policy & Politics article explores how urban governance strategies are incorporating superdiverse spaces into local policies. We use the concrete case of Mouraria, a neighbourhood in Lisbon’s historical district undergoing a renewal process, to investigate the social dynamics that have constituted the idea of ‘diversity advantage’ in a specific urban space.
Continue reading Integrating superdiversity in urban governance: The case of inner-city Lisbon
Policy & Politics Editorial Advisory Board Member Eva Sorensen (Roskilde University) and Co-editor Sarah Ayres (Bristol University) co-chaired a panel on the first session of the 2017 European Consortium for Political Research Conference (ECPR) in Oslo, Norway.
The panel drew together a number of international scholars to examine how political leadership is enacted in interactive governance arenas. Gro Sandkjaer Hanssen (Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research) acted as discussant and drew attention to the range of policy and governance theories underpinning the analysis and the benefits of international comparative research.
Panelists debated the fact that local governments are facing a growing number of wicked and unruly problems that call for the exercise of political leadership that defines the problems and challenges at hand, designs new and innovative solutions and mobilizes support for their implementation. Unfortunately, many local councilors tend to spend most of their time acting as complaints services for the citizens, advanced case managers engaged in detail-regulation and controllers of the conduct of public bureaucracy. Consequently, they fail to exercise the kind of political leadership that is needed to deal with the deep-seated and emerging problems that confront local communities in times of crisis and turbulence. The result of this failure is a steady decline in political trust and a paralysis of local democracy that may trigger the rise of authoritarian populism. Continue reading Policy & Politics Editorial Team co-chair a panel at ECPR on ‘strengthening local governance capacity through interactive political leadership’