Decision makers, be it in the field of higher education politics or in other fields of public policy making, typically claim to be processing a great deal of information. To a substantial degree, this includes news media information. Nonetheless, the same decision makers also pride themselves on basing their decisions on more reliable grounds than a vacillating media coverage. Almost two decades of public management reforms improved the availability of objective measurements and performance data, and introduced quasi markets to feed in public demands. Matching public expectations no longer necessitates resorting to news media and its representation of a public attention that is skewed by news values. Or is it the other way around? Is the influence of news media on decision making rather on the rise, resulting from an increasing reflexivity of public governance and a related need for direction that is no longer provided by the state? On the face of it, the significance of news media coverage is boosted by a new imperative of marketing the value of public sector outcomes. The need for public marketing results from the use of economic measures in public sector producing qualitative outputs that are difficult to attach a price tag to.
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!