One of the hallmarks of the Policy & Politics journal, which has been consistent across its 49 years of publishing, has been to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom and not take things at face value in developing our understanding of policymaking. Across diverse locations and contexts and employing a range of different methods, the journal is known for showcasing incisive analyses of the policy world which foreground the politics that underpin policy making. The three articles chosen for this quarter’s highlights are no exception as each, in different ways, push the boundaries presenting results that often challenge the prevailing view in their fields. Continue reading Policy & Politics Highlights collection August – October 2021→
E-petitions have become extremely popular over the last decade. They circulate freely and quickly, with most people at some point having signed one. But there is a perennial question associated with them: what’s the point of e-petitions, do they achieve anything? In my recent Policy & Politics article, I approach this issue by exploring the different roles petitions can play, focusing on petitions to parliament. I show that petitions systems perform roles beyond enabling participation and policy change, depending on the types of processes in place to evaluate them. I demonstrate that the processes through which petitions are considered are crucial in shaping the role(s) they perform. Continue reading Can you make a difference when you sign an e-petition?→
Many people assume that the main problem faced by governments is an information deficit. However, the opposite is true. A surfeit of information exists and institutions have a hard time managing it. At the same time, all the information that exists in defining problems may be insufficient. Institutions need to develop a capacity to seek out better quality information too.
Imagine. You are an ecologist. You recently discovered that a chemical that is discharged from a local manufacturing plant is threatening a bird that locals love to watch every spring. Now, imagine that you desperately want your research to be relevant and make a difference to help save these birds. All of your training gives you depth of expertise that few others possess. Your training also gives you the ability to communicate and navigate things such as probabilities, uncertainty, and p-values with ease.
But as NPR’s Robert Krulwich argues, focusing on this very specialized training when you communicate policy problems could lead you in the wrong direction. While being true to the science and best practices of your training, one must also be able to tell a compelling story. Perhaps combine your scientific findings with the story about the little old ladies who feed the birds in their backyards on spring mornings, emphasizing the beauty and majesty of these avian creatures, their role in the community, and how the toxic chemicals are not just a threat to the birds, but are also a threat to the community’s understanding of itself and its sense of place. The latest social science is showing that if you tell a good story, your policy communications are likely to be more effective.