New Frontiers & Cardinal Challenges for Scholars of Policy & Politics

P&P 2021 EditorsOscar Berglund, Claire A. Dunlop, and Christopher M. Weible

Policy & Politics serves as the ecumenical journal for the sects and strands found in the studies of social policy, public policy, policy processes and politics. It offers a home for scholars espousing a plurality of ontological, epistemological, and methodological orientations to share their science, learn and challenge each other, and enhance their knowledge.

You’ll find that its latest Special Issue, “Taking Risks and Breaking New Frontiers in Policy & Politics,” embodies the course and cover of Policy & Politics.  For this Special Issue, we challenged a group of leading scholars from different communities in the field to explore questions of inclusivity, diversity and relevance in their areas of expertise.

We encourage you to explore the exegesis on mainstream policy process theories by Tanya Heikkila and Michael D. Jones (2022) and how and whether they should incorporate equity and diversity. Next, examine Anna P. Durnová’s (2022) arguments on making interpretive policy analysis relevant through the study of emotions and using ethnographic approaches that furl human biases and normativity into research. Emanuela Lombardo and Petra Meier’s contribution (2022) challenges gender and policy studies to cross boundaries in exploring issues of equity and power and offers strategies for realizing more democratic and egalitarian societies. Consider the arguments by Saba Siddiki and Cali Curley (2022) who encapsulate recent advances in policy design research with recommendations for its continued progression, including questions of the choices policymakers make and their societal effects. Learn from Osmany Porto de Oliveira’s (2022) deft synopsis of global public policy studies and contemplate his research questions regarding power, the far-right, and the COVID-19 pandemic.  Finally, sharpen your insights about the interplay between citizens and public policy along with the impact of the pandemic, as discussed by Jae Moon and Shine Cho (2022).

Each of us will find pertinent lessons in this Special Issue about what we know in our varied communities of scholarship and how we’re addressing or could address better questions of inclusivity, diversity and relevance.  It has prompted us to ask five cardinal questions about the study of policy and politics:

(1) How do we conceive of policy and political studies?

(2) To what extent should our science be “normative” or “objective” or “positive”?

(3) Who is our audience, and how do we engage them?

(4) Whose knowledge matters, and how does it accumulate?

(5) How should we advance the study of policy and politics? 

Our introduction to this Special Issue posits these questions and some initial – though surely not final – responses. Indeed, we want to know what cardinal questions were missed and how to improve upon our responses.

In all, we hope this Special Issue moves you to embrace an openness to the diversity of scholarship in policy and politics and to consider the journal Policy & Politics as a home for making connections, advancing our sciences and serving humanity. 

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested to read:

Global Public Policy studies

Challenging boundaries to expand frontiers in gender and policy studies

Making interpretive policy analysis critical and societally relevant: emotions, ethnography and language

How diverse and inclusive are policy process theories?

The implications of COVID-19 for concepts and practices of citizenship

Conceptualising policy design in the policy process

Policy & Politics: a perspective on the first half century

Taking risks and breaking new frontiers: introduction to the Special Issue and the cardinal challenges for policy and politics scholarship

NEW SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 1 – Public value as the game changer for co-creation of innovative solutions in the public sector

Special issue blog series on strategic management of the transition to public sector co-creation

updated special issue editors co creationJacob Torfing, Ewan Ferlie, Tina Jukić and Edoardo Ongaro

During the 1980s and early 1990s, we were consistently told that the public sector was ossified, incompetent and unimaginative, and squandered value produced by the hard-working and innovative private sector. Government was the problem, not the solution, and we should therefore have less state and more market. The neoliberal onslaught on the public sector had begun and public employees gradually developed an inferiority complex.

This nightmarish development was reversed by Mark Moore’s Creating Public Value (1995) who insisted that the public sector creates its own distinctive value. The public sector creates ‘public value’ defined as what has value for the public and public values. Public managers are not merely engaged in securing compliance with bureaucratic rules, but are entrepreneurs engaged in the exploration of new and better service and policy solutions. In this way, the public sector was redeemed and public managers could re-describe themselves as proud guardians of the public interest and producers of public value.  Continue reading

Policy & Politics Highlights collection on our NEW special issue just published on ‘Policy-making as designing’: free to access from 1 Feb – 30th April 2020.

Sarah BrownSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

In a slight departure from our usual format highlighting 3 of our most topical articles, this quarter’s highlights collection focuses on our new special issue just published on

Policy-making as designing: the added value of design thinking for public administration and public policy

In recent years, policy makers have shown increasing interest in harnessing design approaches to address policy problems. Design methods can offer innovative perspectives on persistent policy problems (e.g. climate change; ageing population; urbanization etc.). Given the enormous influx of design toolboxes, design approaches and design steps, the search is on for an ‘ultimate’ design approach for public sector problems. But there are different approaches that can be used, and which have different strengths. Continue reading

New call for themed issue proposals

BROWN_SarahSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

Policy & Politics has been publishing cutting-edge papers on public and social policy, and politics for over 40 years and is committed to continuing to advance understanding of the dynamics of policy- making and implementation.

The journal’s co-editors invite proposals for themed issues that address some of the most critical challenges currently facing policymakers, and in doing so make a significant contribution to the field. Reflecting the significance and salience of these challenges, this call provides scholars with a unique opportunity to showcase new ideas and set the research agenda, with themed issues enjoying fast turnaround and prompt publication to maximise their impact.

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New research articles on democracy from Policy & Politics: free to download until 20 September

BROWN_SarahSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

In celebration of APSA’s Conference theme this year on democracy and its discontents, we bring you the latest and best of our research on that topic which is free to access until 20 September 2018. Just click on the hyperlinks below to go straight to the download page for each article.

To whet your appetite, here are three highlights from our range of articles on democracy, all of which aim to enhance our understanding of its importance.

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New virtual collection on Public Participation: free to download until 20 September

BROWN_SarahSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

Read our new free virtual collection on Public Participation while you’re at ECPR 2018. All the articles are free to download from 20 August – 20 September 2018.

Whatever your view on public participation, our new virtual collection brings you our most recent research on the topic from a range of different perspectives, all of which aim to enhance our understanding of its importance. Opening the collection is one of our most innovative articles that seeks to address the gap between evidence and policy on how population health outcomes are determined by health discourses. To explore understandings of the cause of ill health in two deindustrialised areas of Scotland, interviews with participants produced vivid articulations of the links between politics, policies, deindustrialisation, damage to community fabric and impacts on health, hence the title: Working-class discourses of politics, policy and health: ‘I don’t smoke; I don’t drink. The only thing wrong with me is my health’.

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Updating your course reading lists? Check out our essential reading recommendations from Oscar Berglund, Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics

OscarOscar Berglund,
Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics

All articles mentioned in this blog post are free to access until 20th September. 

This time of year, many of us involved in teaching are looking at how to refresh our reading lists for the upcoming academic year. Here at Policy & Politics, we thought that we would give a little helping hand with that by going through some of our latest content that we think will help students understand the things we try to teach.

For those of us teaching concepts, models and theories of the policy process, the recent Weible and Cairney special issue on ‘Practical lessons from policy theories’ is a gold mine where many of the papers give a good account of their respective field, whilst seeking to take the concepts forward and increase their policy relevance. This includes articles on the Multiple Streams Approach, Institutional Analysis and Development, Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the Advocacy Coalition Framework that will all help students make sense of these concepts.  Continue reading

New call for Policy & Politics special issue proposals

logoSarah Brown, Journal Manager

The journal’s co-editors invite proposals for a special issue to be published online in 2020 and in print in 2021 that will make a significant contribution to our understanding of public or social policy and/or politics.

We receive a large number of enquiries about and proposals for special issues which means that we are in the enviable position of selecting only the very strongest. To be successful proposals need to offer a coherent set of excellent original research articles that will reframe or develop knowledge on a topic which is at the leading edge of current debates and is clearly relevant to the journal’s worldwide readership. Proposals may include a mixture of theoretical, conceptual and empirical cases and a range of research methods, and must demonstrate how they will make a significant and lasting contribution to the field.  Continue reading

Introduction to the 2018 special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories

WeibleCairneyChristopher M. Weible and Paul Cairney

In this Special Issue of Policy & Politics, we issue a challenge to policy theory scholars to change the way they produce and communicate research: translate your findings to a wider audience to garner feedback on gauge their clarity and quality.

Policy theories have generated widespread knowledge of the policy process, but the field is vast and uncoordinated, and too many scholars write and speak with so much jargon that ideas become obfuscated, hardly understandable to other scholars, and beyond the interests of people outside of academia. As scholars, we often assume, rather than demonstrate, that our ideas convincingly make sense to people beyond our narrow academic circles and that policy process research contains insights that add cumulative and comparable knowledge to practice and the field.  Continue reading

Introducing our 2018 Policy & Politics special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories

Christopher M. Weible and Paul Cairney

Introducing our 2018 Policy & Politics special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories, published in April now available online and in print. (Free to access online until 31 May)

Professors Christopher. M. Weible from the University of Colorado, Denver and Paul Cairney from the University of Stirling talk in the video below about their motivation for producing a special issue on drawing practical lessons from policy theories, and why their subject is so important.  Continue reading