New Frontiers & Cardinal Challenges for Scholars of Policy & Politics

P&P 2021 EditorsOscar Berglund, Claire A. Dunlop, and Christopher M. Weible

Policy & Politics serves as the ecumenical journal for the sects and strands found in the studies of social policy, public policy, policy processes and politics. It offers a home for scholars espousing a plurality of ontological, epistemological, and methodological orientations to share their science, learn and challenge each other, and enhance their knowledge.

You’ll find that its latest Special Issue, “Taking Risks and Breaking New Frontiers in Policy & Politics,” embodies the course and cover of Policy & Politics.  For this Special Issue, we challenged a group of leading scholars from different communities in the field to explore questions of inclusivity, diversity and relevance in their areas of expertise.

We encourage you to explore the exegesis on mainstream policy process theories by Tanya Heikkila and Michael D. Jones (2022) and how and whether they should incorporate equity and diversity. Next, examine Anna P. Durnová’s (2022) arguments on making interpretive policy analysis relevant through the study of emotions and using ethnographic approaches that furl human biases and normativity into research. Emanuela Lombardo and Petra Meier’s contribution (2022) challenges gender and policy studies to cross boundaries in exploring issues of equity and power and offers strategies for realizing more democratic and egalitarian societies. Consider the arguments by Saba Siddiki and Cali Curley (2022) who encapsulate recent advances in policy design research with recommendations for its continued progression, including questions of the choices policymakers make and their societal effects. Learn from Osmany Porto de Oliveira’s (2022) deft synopsis of global public policy studies and contemplate his research questions regarding power, the far-right, and the COVID-19 pandemic.  Finally, sharpen your insights about the interplay between citizens and public policy along with the impact of the pandemic, as discussed by Jae Moon and Shine Cho (2022).

Each of us will find pertinent lessons in this Special Issue about what we know in our varied communities of scholarship and how we’re addressing or could address better questions of inclusivity, diversity and relevance.  It has prompted us to ask five cardinal questions about the study of policy and politics:

(1) How do we conceive of policy and political studies?

(2) To what extent should our science be “normative” or “objective” or “positive”?

(3) Who is our audience, and how do we engage them?

(4) Whose knowledge matters, and how does it accumulate?

(5) How should we advance the study of policy and politics? 

Our introduction to this Special Issue posits these questions and some initial – though surely not final – responses. Indeed, we want to know what cardinal questions were missed and how to improve upon our responses.

In all, we hope this Special Issue moves you to embrace an openness to the diversity of scholarship in policy and politics and to consider the journal Policy & Politics as a home for making connections, advancing our sciences and serving humanity. 

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also be interested to read:

Global Public Policy studies

Challenging boundaries to expand frontiers in gender and policy studies

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

How diverse and inclusive are policy process theories?

The implications of COVID-19 for concepts and practices of citizenship

Conceptualising policy design in the policy process

Policy & Politics: a perspective on the first half century

Taking risks and breaking new frontiers: introduction to the Special Issue and the cardinal challenges for policy and politics scholarship

Policy & Politics favourites of 2021

Thea Cook, Journals Marketing ExecutiveThea-Cook

We wanted to share some of our readers’ favourite content that you might have missed. Please enjoy free access to some of our most read and highly cited articles, along with some of our editors’ highlights from recent issues. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in Today’s Politics

PierceJonathan J Pierce

In the past year, rioters have stormed the US Capitol building trying to overthrow a presidential election, protestors have marched against police brutality in support of Black Lives Matter, governments have spent trillions of dollars on bailing out the economy, people are protesting mask mandates and lockdowns, and white supremacy and anti-fascist movements are growing daily and seeking a revolution. This is all occurring while the world faces the largest public health crisis in over a century. People are angry and anxious about today’s politics. Can theories and frameworks of public policy explain the influence of emotions? My conclusion based on my recent research published in Policy & Politics is no. Continue reading

Blog from the winner of our Policy & Politics 2021 undergraduate prize to the student achieving the highest overall mark on the ‘Understanding Public Policy’ unit at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol

Lara Gordge

My name is Lara and I’m currently about to enter my final year of the BSc Social Policy with Criminology undergraduate degree at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol (home of the Policy & Politics journal). Winning the student prize for the ‘Understanding Public Policy’ unit came as quite a surprise, but I’m thrilled and honoured to have been chosen. All of my peers are brilliant thinkers and so very talented, so to win has given me a lot of confidence in my academic ability.

One of the main things I loved about the ‘Understanding Public Policy’ unit was the ability to write about such a broad variety of topics. One of the essays I enjoyed the most focused on two key questions around power within policymaking in the realm of behavioural economics – who is given the authority to make decisions on behalf of the greater good, and why are those decisions considered the right ones to make? Continue reading

Policy & Politics Highlights collection August – October 2021

Sarah_Brown_credit_Evelyn_Sturdy
Image credit: Evelyn Sturdy at Unsplash

Sarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

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

Updating your course reading lists? Check out our essential reading recommendations for Public Policy, Politics and Social Policy from Policy & Politics

All articles featured in this blog post are free to access until 31 October 2021

KoebeleIntroducing Elizabeth Koebele: our new Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno.

I am thrilled to have begun serving as Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics in January 2021. I have spent the last few months taking over this position from my colleague, Oscar Berglund, who now serves as one of the journal’s co-editors. As many of us are beginning to plan for our policy and politics-focused courses next semester, I figured what better way to celebrate joining the P&P team than to share with you some of my favorite Policy & Politics articles that make a great fit on a variety of syllabi? I hope this saves you time and effort in mining our recent articles, while also ensuring your course materials reflect the latest research from the frontiers of the discipline.

My initial suggestions are structured around two general topics that I hope many of you find yourself teaching or studying: one focused on knowledge, and one focused on actors/influence. I’m also sharing my top picks for readings on an increasingly popular policy topic: policy diffusion/transfer. In each case, I’ve recommended three articles that represent some of the most significant research we’ve published recently. Please let me know what you think when you’re compiling your reading lists for the start of the academic year. I’d value your feedback and suggestions for future topics to cover! Continue reading

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 4 – Three top tips for better quality behavioural public policy research

Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.

cotterillSarah Cotterill

The quality of the reporting in behavioural public policy research is often poor, making it difficult for the reader to understand what the intervention was or how the research was done. In 2018 a review was published about choice architecture and nudges: behaviour change interventions where the environment or decision-taking context are designed in such a way that people are nudged toward more beneficial options. The review found 156 studies, and reported an excessive amount of bad practice: only two per cent followed a reporting guideline, only seven percent were informed by a power calculation, none of the studies were pre-registered and the descriptions of the interventions were non‐exhaustive, with frequently overlapping categories. The quality of many studies is too poor to allow meta-analysis and the behavioural interventions are not described in sufficient detail to delineate one from another or allow replication. Continue reading

Design special issue highlights collection – free to access from 31 July 2020 – 31 October 2020

Sarah BrownSarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

This quarter’s highlights collection brings to you a selection of articles from our incredibly popular special issue on Policymaking as designing: the added value of design thinking for public administration and public policy.

Published earlier this year, this special issue brings together a collection of papers that have taken design of public policy and administration seriously, in a variety of different and practical ways. The papers demonstrate that not only are there many examples of design approaches being implemented, but that there is much to learn about how we make the best use of these to improve public policy and administration and the design of public services. 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.