Exploring the role of the state in the depoliticisation of UK Transport Policy: Reflections through the lens of COVID-19

Reardon and MarsdenLouise Reardon and Greg Marsden

At the height of the pandemic in the UK, the government order was to ‘stay home, protect the National Health Service, save lives’. The public were told not to travel to their place of work unless that work was essential (and couldn’t be done from home), told not to leave the house for anything but essential groceries, medication or to support the vulnerable, and in doing so advised not to travel on public transport unless there was no alternative. As a consequence travel demand plummeted: motor traffic down by 73% compared to pre-outbreak levels, rail journeys down 90%, London Underground journeys down 94%, and bus journeys in London down 83%. While the current context is very different to the one we wrote our new Policy & Politics article in, it highlights the puzzle that initially caught our attention. Continue reading

April 2014 Special Issue: Perspectives on depoliticisation and repoliticisation

Policy and Politics coverThe April issue of Policy & Politics is a special issue: Perspectives on depoliticisation and repoliticisation. It is available free online until the 31 May 2014.

This Special Issue of the journal centres on the issue of depoliticisation – ‘the narrowing of the boundaries of democratic politics’, according to Matthew Flinders and Matt Wood in the opening article. In that, and the second paper in the issue, they clear the ground upon which the others build, and argue for a broader, multifaceted approach to depoliticisation than has hitherto been the case. The other authors in the issue take up the challenge and offer a revealing set of empirical and theoretical contributions.

Paul Fawcett and David Marsh draw on literatures related to meta-governance and political participation, and conclude in their analysis that there is evidence for both depoliticisation and repoliticisation. Peter Burnham explores depoliticisation with reference to capitalist development and crisis management. He argues that the liberal-capitalist state is threatened by the politicisation of social relations. Using the North Atlantic and European debt crises, Bob Jessop explores the contours of politicisation, depoliticisation, and repoliticisation, arguing that matters such as the imposition of technocratic government can be understood with reference to these processes. Emma Ann Foster, Peter Kerr, and Christopher Byrne  link depoliticisation to Foucauldian notions of governmentality. They argue that depoliticisation can be interpreted as a means to further extend the neo-liberalisation of state apparatus. Stephen Bates, Laura Jenkins, and Fran Amery explore depoliticisation and repoliticisation within the context of assisted reproductive technologies. Their contribution raises issues around state-society relations. In relation to energy policy, Caroline Kuzemko tracks the depoliticisation and repoliticisation of energy policy since the 1980s. She links up the policy issue of energy and the potent language of security to offer a critique of the framing of the debate. Ross Beveridge and Matthias Naumann use a case study of the remunicipalisation of the Berlin water company to think through strategies of repoliticisation. Based in urban politics, this article implies continuing space for political agency.

David Sweeting, Associate Editor of Policy & Politics