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

Introducing our forthcoming Special Issue on superdiversity

Guest editors Jenny Phillimore, Nando Sigona and Katharine Tonkiss introduce their forthcoming Special Issue on superdiversity.


‘Super-diversity’ is a concept introduced by anthropologist Steven Vertovec (2007; Meissner and Vertovec 2015) to capture migration-driven demographic complexity and diversification which have emerged over recent decades in London and similar urban centres. While the nature and impact of superdiversity have begun to be interrogated in a wide range of fields and disciplines, the governance of – and development of policy associated with – superdiversity has received little attention. This special issue of Policy and Politics brings together contributions from across Europe in order to begin to address some of the gaps in knowledge around the multi-scalar governance of superdiversity.

The first article in our collection, by Hadj-Abdou and Geddes, focuses on the implications of increasing diversity for governance at the European level. Their findings concern the emergence of new policy paradigms associated with diversity at the European level. Interestingly they reveal the radical transformations in policy and governance brought about by processes of diversification in the demos which have often been hidden in studies of European governance.

Geldof et al go on to argue that flexible migration strategies emerge in superdiverse urban areas and consider the interplay between transnational practices by migrants and existing institutional responses in the country of residence.

Van Breugel and Scholten’s contribution offers a national comparative investigation of how the Netherlands, the UK and France have used mainstreaming to respond to migration-driven transformations in ways that are driven by political and economic motives, rather than considerations of diversity.

Ambrosini addresses the changing relations between national and local immigrant policies, and the involvement of civil society in the urban governance of immigration.

Medda-Windischer’s piece shifts the analysis to the sub-national level. By examining the multi-layering of ‘old’ and ‘new’ minorities in South Tyrol, she highlights the shortcomings of traditional ways of thinking about the representation of minorities in policymaking processes and highlights the potential of superdiversity to move past some of these limitations.

Oliveria and Padilla focus upon the ways in which superdiversity has been used as a marketing tool to highlight the uniqueness of certain places and increase their attractiveness to tourists.

Magazzini’s article demonstrates the value of superdiversity as the basis of a model for the governance of minorities. Turning her attention to the Roma populations of Europe, she develops a nuanced and detailed critique of pre-existing models and an analysis of the possibilities presented by a superdiversity-based approach.

Pemberton examines the role of urban planning in responding to migration-related superdiversity. Through a focus on Liverpool in the UK, the article highlights the importance of class-based differences above ethnic and cultural differences in shaping the practices of urban planners.

Finally, in Jensen’s contribution, the focus shifts to the neighbourhood level where the tension between diversity as a social fact and the neighbourhood as a site of local governance is explored.

Collectively, the authors propose a multi-scalar investigation of how local, regional, national and supranational institutions are coming to terms with the rapid and profound transformation of their populations. In doing so, they also contribute to the development of an agenda for future research that considers opportunities and challenges for policy and governance in the age of migration-driven superdiversity. Taken as a whole, the issue suggests paths to pursue and questions that needs further in-depth investigation. It also opens up a space for the encounters between different bodies of scholarship that to date have not yet, or only fleetingly, met.

Look out for the special issue forthcoming in October! But until then, each of the individual articles which are already published online, can be found by clicking through the titles above.

Jenny Phillimore is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham. Nando Sigona is Deputy Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) at the University of Birmingham and Katharine Tonkiss is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Aston University.

Practical Lessons from Policy Theories: a new agenda

Weible workshop 2Professors 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?

That’s why we asked a group of experts to describe the ‘state of the art’ in their field and the practical lessons that they offer. Continue reading

Sneak preview of October 2015 edition!

Sarah Brown

by our Journal Manager, Sarah Brown

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.


Bob Jessop
Bob Jessop

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.


Peter Taylor-Gooby
Peter Taylor-Gooby

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
Craig Berry

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.

Allan Cochrane
Allan Cochrane

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.

Deborah Wilson
Deborah Wilson

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.

Annette Hastings and Peter Matthews
Annette Hastings and Peter Matthews

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.

Jitske Verkerk, Geert Teisman and Arwin van Buuren
Jitske Verkerk, Geert Teisman and Arwin van Buuren

On a different topic, Jitske Verkerk, Geert Teisman and Arwin van Buuren explore the challenges of a complex, multi-governance setting in their article on Synchronising climate adaptation processes in a multilevel governance setting: exploring synchronisation of governance levels in the Dutch Delta. They analyse how the concept of synchronisation helps actors to connect multilevel governance processes that all have their own development, logic and self-organising dynamics. Using a case study based on the Dutch Delta, they demonstrate how the concept of synchronisation helps to understand the self-organising coordinative capacity within multilevel governance processes and produce a coherent adaptation strategy.

Keerty Nakray

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!

Policy & Politics July 2015 Special Issue: Scale and Scaling of Interactive Governance

David Sweeting
David Sweeting

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.

In the words of the guest editors the articles investigate ‘the scalar dimensions of collaborative governance and explore the challenges of Continue reading

Inspired by the Issue: John Hudson

John Hudson
John Hudson

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.

Looking across Europe, but with a particular focus on the Danish Social Democrats, Christoph Arndt and Kees van Kerbergen explore what they describe as the ‘ill-fated political experience’ of the Third Way approach that Blair once championed. As well as documenting the rise and fall of what once seemed a winning political Continue reading

Latest issue out now – here’s a sneak preview…

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/.

Bearing in mind the profile that the issue of housing has taken on in the election campaign, Danny Dorling’s is a particularly prescient article. In a typically provocative Continue reading