by Clementine Hill O’Connor, Katherine Smith & Ellen Stewart
Balancing evidence with public preferences – a pressing policy dilemma?
How can policy organisations balance competing (and sometimes conflicting) imperatives to strengthen the role of evidence in policy, with simultaneous calls to better engage diverse publics? Academic research has much to say about both the value of evidence for policymaking and there are multiple studies examining evidence use in policy and assessing efforts to increase (or improve) the policymakers’ engagement with evidence. Academics have also been involved in developing a wide range of methods through which publics can be involved in policymaking. Perhaps surprisingly, these contributions are rarely connected. So, despite sharing a fundamental concern with the basis on which policy is made and a (sometimes implicit) claim to improve policy, these two areas of academic work are rarely connected. This is important because this disconnect creates real world challenges for people working in policy settings. This disconnect is the focus of our recent research published in Policy & Politics entitled Integrating Evidence and Public Engagement in Policy Work: An empirical examination of three UK policy organisations.
The expertise of people with lived experience is receiving increased attention within policy making arenas. Yet consultation processes have, for the most part, been led by public servants, with limited resources provided for supporting the community engagement vital to the inclusion of lived experience experts in policy making. What would policy decisions look like if the voices of the communities who live with the consequences of these decisions were prioritised not only in consultation processes, but in determining priorities and policy processes from the outset? This is one of the questions we explore in our recent article published in the special issue on Transformational Change in Public Policy. Continue reading →
Welcome to our first virtual issue of 2021 and to a new year of reflecting on some of the latest thinking on the major policy questions of our time including the growing importance of digital democracy and on-line public service delivery, the decline of public trust in conventional politics, and the potential of citizen participation to reconnect electorates with political and policymaking processes.
Given that on-line working has become so pervasive and so important during the coronavirus pandemic, we start this virtual issue with a collection of papers that explores the role of digitalisation in promoting public participation and delivering public services. Read on as we journey from analyses of these innovative examples of digitalisation, stopping off at some familiar but important themes for regular readers of the journal including direct democracy, political leadership, and new insights into citizen participation. Continue reading →