A new book examined the place of knowledge in contemporary policymaking in Europe, presenting empirical case studies of health and education policy in different national and international contexts.
Source: Richard Freeman and Steve Sturdy, Knowledge in Policy: Embodied, inscribed, enacted, Policy Press
A study examined how senior civil servants related to academic research and expertise, drawing on an online survey that asked about how they accessed and used such information and what impact this had on policymaking. The report said that the majority of senior civil servants actively engaged with academic outputs, although many did so in limited ways and a significant minority did not engage at all. They reported turning to briefings or reports (79 per cent), or media reports of academic outputs in newspapers and weeklies (61 per cent), or professional journals (55 per cent), in disciplines such as public policy (63 per cent), economics (60 per cent), public administration (54 per cent) and business and management (49 per cent). Senior civil servants also welcomed general expertise and were positive about academics' roles in the policy process.
Source: Colin Talbot and Carole Talbot, Sir Humphrey and the Professors: What does Whitehall want from academics?, Policy@Manchester, University of Manchester
The Council of Europe published its gender equality strategy. The strategy had five objectives: to combat gender stereotypes and sexism; to prevent and combat violence against women; to guarantee equal access to justice; to achieve balance in the participation of women and men in political and public decision-making; and to achieve gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures.
Source: Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017, Council of Europe
A report examined the work of the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee in contributing to the effective implementation of gender mainstreaming in the committees and delegations of the European parliament.
Source: Manuela Samek Lodovici, Flavia Pesce, Davide Barbieri, Daniela Loi, Erica Melloni, and Cristina Vasilescu, Gender Mainstreaming in Committees and Delegations of the European Parliament, European Parliament
A statement was released to confirm that, following the conclusion of research and a public consultation, the Board of the UK Statistics Authority had accepted the recommendation of the National Statistician for the 2021 census to be conducted predominantly online, supplemented by the further use of administrative and survey data. The matter would now rest with the government and parliament, to determine the arrangements for future census-taking in England and Wales.
Source: The Census and Future Provision of Population Statistics in England and Wales, UK Statistics Authority
An article developed an ethnographic account of the recent enthusiasm for behaviour change in public policy. An anthropological perspective explained the emergence of behaviour change as a set of ideas, people, organizations, events, and happenings: not only as a sometimes contradictory policy 'agenda', but also as a diverse and novel industry or cadre of expertise that was played out in geographical ways. The particularities of behaviour change policies was said to pose new challenges to anthropological approaches to the state.
Source: Rhys Jones, Jessica Pykett, and Mark Whitehead, 'Behaviour change policies in the UK: an anthropological perspective', Geoforum, Volume 49
An article examined the relationship between 'nudge-based' approaches and behavioural economics and psychology. The author advocated a more explicitly political, social-democratic model of the behaviour change state: this would be more attuned to the socio-economic context of behaviour, and also be prepared to defend citizens against ubiquitous attempts to shape their subjectivity.
Source: Will Leggett, 'The politics of behaviour change: nudge, neoliberalism and the state', Policy & Politics, Volume 42 Number 1
A special issue of a journal examined the role and value of qualitative research in informing evidence-based policy making.
Source: Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, Volume 27 Number 1
Links: Table of contents
Notes: Articles included:
Will Thomas and Sue Hollinrake, 'Policy-makers, researchers and service users – resolving the tensions and dilemmas of working together'
Fran Bennett and Sirin Sung, 'Money matters: using qualitative research for policy influencing on gender and welfare reform'
Derek Birrell, 'Qualitative research and policy-making in Northern Ireland: barriers arising from the lack of consensus, capacity and conceptualization'>
An article examined the growing interest in outcome-based social policy-making. It highlighted the importance of the attribution problem – how to attribute changes in outcomes to specific social policies. A 'cause-and-effect' policy modelling approach could partially tackle the attribution problem, but had inherent limitations: it was inappropriate in certain fields, given the existing state of knowledge of social policy systems.
Source: Tony Bovaird, 'Attributing outcomes to social policy interventions – "gold standard" or "fool's gold" in public policy and management?', Social Policy and Administration, Volume 48 Number 1
An article examined the use of evidence by policy-makers, updating an earlier systematic review on the topic. The article said that the most important factors in influencing use of evidence were: timely access to research evidence of appropriate relevance and quality; collaborations with policymakers; and relationship- and skills-building with policymakers. It noted that empirical data about policy processes or implementation were not widely available, and made recommendations for future research and policy.
Source: Kathryn Oliver, Simon Innvar, Theo Lorenc, Jenny Woodman, and James Thomas, 'A systematic review of barriers to and facilitators of the use of evidence by policymakers', BMC Health Services Research, Volume 14 Issue 2