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

Anna_Durnova.jpg
Portrait von Mag. Dr. Anna Pospech Durnova in Wien, Okotber 2021 Copyright: Eugenie Sophie

Anna Durnová

Retrieving meanings from texts is not just about reading or counting words; texts are more than words put on a paper or a screen. These two phrases have repeatedly accompanied my responses to a mainstream audience at academic meetings when explaining how interpretive approaches work. The interpretive tradition is significant, going substantially beyond political science and public policy, and encompassing many concepts and tools to retrieve meanings from texts. As structured traces of meanings (both audiovisual and textual), texts reflect the world around us and shape our view and thus can tell us how we look at this world. Continue reading

Spotlighting interpretive approaches to public policy scholarship

New Policy & Politics blog feature by Julia Jordan-Zachery.

We are delighted to launch a new feature on the Policy and Politics blog which aims to spotlight interpretive approaches to the study of policy and politics. As a mainstream journal, although our aim is to incorporate pluralist perspectives, the reality is that have received and become known for some types of scholarship rather than others.

This spotlight series hopes to encourage a greater range of scholarship, and, to this end, our first feature showcases interpretive perspectives on policy problems.

In this piece, Julia Jordan-Zachery provides an excellent snapshot of the history and practice of intersectionality, illuminating some of its policy implications. Continue reading

How can non-elected representatives secure democratic representation?

fossheim-karin2Karin Fossheim

Research on the democratic legitimacy of non-elected actors influencing policy while acting as representatives is often lacking in governance literature, despite being increasingly relevant worldwide in both established and emerging democracies. Recent theories of representation argue that there are non-electoral mechanisms to appoint such non-elected representatives and hold them responsible for their actions. Consequently, democratic non-electoral representation can be achieved. Through in-depth, empirical analysis, this article explores democratic non-electoral representation in governance networks by comparing how non-elected representatives, their constituents and the decision-making audience understand the outcome of representation to benefit the constituency, authorisation and accountability. This analysis explores the perspectives of the non-elected representatives, the constituency and the audience and discusses the theoretical implications of the results.

The research findings conclude that all three groups mostly share the understanding of democratic non-electoral representation as ongoing interactions between representatives and constituents, multiple (if any) organisational and discursive sources of authorisation and deliberative aspects of accountability. All of these are mechanisms that, in the absence of elections, can secure democratic representation. Contrary to what the theory suggests, accountability based on sanctions is not considered essential to ensure democratic non-electoral representation.

These findings make an important contribution to the literature on non-electoral representation in policymaking and to the broader literature on representative democracy.


You can read the original research in Policy & Politics

Fossheim Karin (2022) How can non-elected representatives secure democratic representation? Policy and Politics DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/030557321X16371011677734

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blog post authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Policy & Politics, the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

How partisan politics influence government policies in response to ageing populations

Kweon & Suzuki
Yesola Kweon & Kohei Suzuki

Unlike other social policies which disproportionately target economically disadvantaged individuals, old-age programs, like pensions, mitigate life-course risks that are relevant to everyone. Whether someone is lower- or upper-class, young or old, everyone ages and could experience unexpected costs and reduced income. For this reason, all parties across the ideological spectrum have a political incentive to support these programs. Nevertheless, in our new article in Policy & Politics, ‘How partisan politics influence government policies in response to ageing populations,’ we emphasize that partisan politics still matter in determining the modes of policy provision in response to an ageing population. Continue reading

Analysing boundaries of health and social care in policy and media reform narratives: the epic and tragic narratives of policy reform.

Duijn Bannink NiesSarah van Duijn, Duco Bannink & Henk Nies

When we wrote this blog, Ukraine had not yet been invaded by Russia. However, it would feel inappropriate to us to publish this blog without acknowledging it. We are aware that we are no experts in the field of geopolitics or international relations. However, we cannot help but remark that the strategies we found in our article have become amplified in the rhetoric that surrounds the war in Ukraine. Indeed, the epic-tragic mechanism is part and parcel of democratic processes – as we show in our article – but it is also a part of incomparably worse phenomena such as (threats of) war. Continue reading

How do policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism in Vietnam?

Hang DuongHang Duong

In my recent research article in Policy & Politics, I investigate how policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism in Vietnam. My findings show that civil service reforms in Vietnam’s merit-based policies are influenced by both Western and Asian models of meritocracy. This makes it both closer to universal “best practices” and at the same time sharpens the distinctiveness of Vietnam’s policy. While reform imperatives urge Vietnam to seek lessons from the West, the context of an Asian authoritarian regime explains their prioritising of experience from similar settings like China and other Asian countries. The pragmatic calculations of political actors in combination with the context of a one-party authoritarian state have led to transfer from contrasting meritocratic philosophies and models through mechanisms of translation and assemblage, resulting in a hybrid of convergence and divergence. Continue reading

An organisational approach to meta-governance – structuring reforms through organisational (re-)engineering 

Jarle Trondal

Jarle Trondal

Innovation in the public sector has climbed to the top of government agendas with ambitions to make public administration flexible in the face of societal ruptures. There is a growing body of research which tries to identify how institutions and systems respond to surprises, uncertainty and errors. Studies also provide insights on how different institutional conditions enable individuals and organisations to respond to profound change. In my recent article in Policy & Politics, I argue that organisation theory may help to serve as a bridge between theory and practice linking scholarship to the realities of practice, concerned not just with how things are, but how things might be. Given certain goals, such as innovation in public organisations, organisation designers would thus be capable of recommending structural solutions. Continue reading

Are resilience, robustness, agility and improvisation in policymaking all they’re cracked up to be?

Perri 6Perri 6
Professor in Public Management
Queen Mary University of London

Summary of article

After crises and disasters, pundits regularly write articles and books calling for more resilience in policymaking, and the Covid-19 pandemic has been an especially rich opportunity for advocates of resilience (e.g., https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-70179-6_14). Business project management jargon about ‘agility’ gets used to urge politicians and their advisers to do their policymaking more fluidly in response to constant change. In 2016, even the Cabinet Office joined in the fun, issuing guidance on agility in open policymaking. Some writers now advocate greater use of improvisation in policymaking. Others argue for ways of working among policymakers which can lead to policy designs that can withstand shocks – or robustness. Long advocated by the RAND Corporation as way of handling uncertainty, academics too are now urging greater efforts to pursue robustness Continue reading

The Implications of COVID-19 for Concepts and Practices of Citizenship

Moon and ChoJae M. Moon and Shine B. Cho

Recently, there has been growing interest in the nature and scope of citizens’ roles in addressing complex wicked policy problems which perhaps has piqued during the COVID-19 global pandemic. This is largely due to recognition by governments and businesses that they cannot effectively solve seemingly persistent and intractable societal problems without active and voluntary participation from a range of policy actors, including citizens. Continue reading

Conceptualising Policy Design in the Policy Process 

Saba and CaliSaba Siddiki and Cali Curley

The study of policy design has been of long-standing interest to policy scholars. Considering the renewed attention to researching policy design in the last decade, it is an opportune time to forge new pathways for developing this critical line of scholarship. In their recent article in Policy & Politics, authors Saba Siddiki and Cali Curley seek to take stock of the developments in policy design research, especially as they coincide with other developments in the study of the policy process. Continue reading