Professors Chris Weible and Paul Cairney were the successful applicants for our 2019 special issue call for proposals. This blog post summarises a recent workshop held in Colorado on their topic Practical Lessons from Policy Theories by way of presaging some of the key research themes they will pursue in their special issue.
Policy theories provide profound lessons for people trying to understand and engage with the policy process. As policy scholars we often take them for granted, but for non-specialists they can represent a new way of thinking. So, sharing these insights helps scholars and practitioners. Explaining our theories clearly gives us a new way to take stock of policy theory: how does it help us think about and act within the policy process?
Here’s a sneak preview of our October edition which will be published at the end of this month. Read on to scan this post for links to the articles in this forthcoming edition. If you have difficulty accessing the full text, it may be because your institution doesn’t subscribe to Policy & Politics. If that’s the case, do try our free trial or recommend the journal to your librarian.
Opening with a tour d’horizon entitled Crises, crisis-management and state restructuring: what future for the state?, Bob Jessop provides an insightful critical overview of what constitutes ‘the state’. In exploring a range of challenges to the state, some of which ‘condense’ into crises, he offers some thoughts on the future of the state, its management of crises and its challenges.
Continuing with the theme of the state, but with a specific focus on welfare, Peter Taylor-Gooby argues powerfully about the critical need for a welfare state, particularly in the context of harsh spending cuts which affect the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society. In his article Making the Case for the Welfare State, he argues for more inclusive discourses around welfare, so reframing the way people think about work, reward and welfare.
Craig Berry’s article also addresses the issue of welfare. In Citizenship in a financialised society: financial inclusion and the state before and after the crash, he unpacks the ‘financial inclusion’ agenda which has been extensively promoted by successive UK governments. This agenda, he argues, can ‘empower’ individuals to play an enhanced role in ensuring their own financial security without relying on the state. However, in his subsequent critical analysis, he reveals its more covert aspects, such as the increased hidden risks that ‘financial inclusion’ exposes individuals to, in order to secure macroeconomic growth at all costs.
There is further exploration of the role of the state, this time in relation to the markets, in Allan Cochrane and Bob Colenutt’s piece on Governing the Ungovernable: spatial policy, markets and volume house-building in a growth region. They deconstruct the global rhetoric promoting the role of private markets in the provision of new housing and how it masks a more complex reality. They offer perceptive critical reflections on the consequences of policies that sanction ‘light touch’ state involvement in a housing development market shaped by the priorities of powerful corporate actors.
Exploring a wide-ranging array of other policy issues, this edition of Policy & Politics also includes an article by Gary Bridge and Deborah Wilson called Towards an interactive sociological rational choice approach to theorising class dimensions of school choice. By exploring the value of two established perspectives on decision-making, they develop a third framework for explaining how school choices are made by parents in the UK. They argue that using this new framework could result in policy benefits such as reducing social class differentials between schools and subsequent educational outcomes.
In a similar vein, Annette Hastings and Peter Matthews proffer a new approach for analysing middle class service use in their article on Bourdieu and the Big Society: empowering the powerful in public service provision? Building on Bourdieu’s theory of practice to theorise middle-class use of public services, they proffer a new theoretical framework and evidence how engagement with the state is a classed practice, producing benefits for those already empowered. They conclude with a call to action to policy scholars and practitioners to fully understand how advantage comes about, so that it can be challenged if it is unfair and leads to detrimental outcomes.
Last but not least, Keerty Nakray explores the concept of gender budgeting and the challenges to operationalising gender justice in India in her article on Gender budgeting and public policy: the challenges to operationalising gender justice in India. In a thorough analysis of the Indian gender budget statement of 2005, Nakray demonstrates how incomplete the process was. It failed to take into account all the gender budget procedures that needed to be implemented in order to achieve tangible gender equality outcomes, despite being viewed as a progressive development by the transnational feminist movement. She highlights that gender budgets should be further consolidated within central administrative mechanisms to result in more gender sensitive approaches to governance.
That was rather a whistle-stop tour through this month’s edition packed with impactful research findings. I do hope it’ll encourage you to click through to read the articles themselves.
I hope you enjoy the issue. Feedback always welcome!
by David Sweeting, Associate Editor, Policy & Politics
A truly international edition of Policy & Politics is now available electronically and in print. Comprising authors based in Europe, the US, Australia, Hong Kong, and Brazil, the contributions in this Special Issue illuminate issues pertaining to collaboration and networks, all under the banner of ‘scale and scaling of interactive governance’. Edited by Chris Ansell and Jacob Torfing – both plenary speakers at the 2014 Policy & Politics conference – the contributions in the volume individually and collectively live up to the journal’s aim to advance knowledge in social and public policy.
By John Hudson, Member of the Policy & Politics Editorial Advisory Board and Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, University of York, UK
In the middle of a lengthy discussion of health reforms in his autobiography, A Journey, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair bemoaned the nature of social scientific research, saying ‘I used to pore over the latest offerings from various highly reputable academic or scholarly quarters, and find nothing of any real practical help’. With his former party once again leaderless and in apparent turmoil following a second successive crushing election defeat, those bidding to follow in Blair’s footsteps as the Labour Party’s next leader will find much food for thought should they pore over the current issue of Policy & Politics.
The latest issue of Policy & Politics is now available on shelves and online.
Our April issue opens with an article on The Politics of Climate Change based on the inspirational Policy & Politics Annual Lecture given by the world renowned sociologist, Lord Anthony Giddens. During the lecture, which attracted over 800 people, Lord Giddens presented a clear and pressing case for the need for urgent action to address climate change. He outlined a paradoxical trend where many will do little to address climate change until there are palpable and visible impacts – by which time it will be too late. Lord Giddens persuasively called for a renewed, digitally-enhanced global activism, to stimulate and to change attitudes to climate change risks, to promote alternative technologies, and to mobilise pressure on governments to take rapid action to reduce carbon emissions, thus saving the earth from impending catastrophe. You can also view the film of the lecture at http://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/policypolitcs/annuallecture2015/.
by Christine Cheyne, Member of the Policy & Politics Editorial Advisory Board and Associate Professor, School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University, New Zealand
I’m always drawn to ‘edge-y’ articles – or writing that decenters, provokes and challenges – and this issue does not disappoint. The article by Andrew Ryder, Gypsies and Travellers a Big or Divided Society, offers a fresh perspective on the localism debate that has characterised recent UK public policy. Although much less a feature of other jurisdictions, the localism debate in the UK that has some resonance for readers in many parts of the world as it highlights long-standing tensions in democratic theory between statism and localism. These tensions, I would argue, have been exploited by higher levels of government in many parts of the world (including my own country, New Zealand) since the 2008 global financial crisis. Ryder shows with his case study of the treatment of Gypsy and Traveller site provision under the new localist planning system that even though overt state intervention is resiled from, localism can be a new form of control of local politics and can exacerbate inequalities and social exclusion which might otherwise be mitigated through central planning guidance or redistributive policies. Ryder asserts Habermas’s deliberative democratic ideal in making a case for a ‘new centralism’, an inclusive governance that recognizes a role for a central state to protect vulnerable minorities, but which also insists on participatory and deliberative democratic processes so that localism doesn’t become (or increase) NIMBY-ism.
Provoking some further intellectual discomfort, climate change is a profoundly complex public policy challenge to which meaningful responses continue to be lacking. While the focus is often, appropriately, on younger age groups and the implications for their lifestyles, Wistow et al. draw attention to the realities for a particularly vulnerable group in our society, the dependent elderly, who are less visibly but, arguably, more seriously disadvantaged by extreme weather events associated with climate change that can damage and destroy built infrastructure. With an ageing population dependent on electricity supply, not just for domestic heating (or cooling), but also for provision of medical care such as hoists, oxygen supplies and dialysis, contemplating the adverse consequences of disruption from extreme weather events is sobering. Wistow et al. provide detailed data from interviews and focus groups about the risks and options to address them. Even if 50 is the new 30, readers will be challenged to think about the implications for the ageing/dependent groups – if not ourselves then our older family members from whom we are often living at some distance. Localism has much yet to deliver both for our most vulnerable groups but for all of us experiencing climate change. Getting the balance between central and local leadership and community participation is critical.
You can read the whole January 2015 issue of Policy & Politics here.
Policy & Politics, Volume 43, issue 1, is now available in print and online. David Sweeting introduces the issue.
The latest issue of Policy & Politics showcases some of the most creative and innovative work that is going on in the field, covering a variety of topics. As ever, the contributions combine theoretical insight with empirical analysis, and offer a wide geographical spread. The issue also contains our first ‘research provocation’ piece.