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Background:

Continued growth of the evidence and policy field has prompted calls to consolidate findings in pursuit of a more holistic understanding of theory and practice.

Aims and objectives:

The aim of this paper is to develop and explore an analytical typology that offers a way to consider the heterogeneity of different actors in UK evidence and policy.

Methods:

We draw upon a discourse coalitions approach to analyse a series of semi-structured interviews with a cross-section of professionals in the evidence and policy field.

Findings:

We describe an analytical typology that is composed of three discourse coalitions, each with their own framings of the problems of evidence and policy relations, the practices needed to address these, the organisation of people, and their priorities for future development. These are: the analytical coalition, which typically theorises evidence and policy relations in a way that matches empirical observations; the advocacy coalition, which typically normatively refines and prescribes particular evidence and policy relations; and the application coalition, which typically evaluates contextual conditions and enacts techniques to bring evidence into policy and practice.

Discussion and conclusions:

We discuss the potential of this analytical lens to inform recognised tensions in evidence and policy relations, and consider how greater awareness of the positioning of individuals within these coalitions may help to foster improved collaboration and consolidation in the field. Ultimately, we note that distinct priorities in the three coalitions signify different visions for progress within the field that need to be negotiated.

Open access

Background:

Education decision makers are increasingly expected to use evidence to inform their actions. However, the majority of educational interventions have not yet been studied and it is challenging to produce high quality research evidence quickly enough to influence policy questions.

Aims and objectives:

We set out to gather evidence on the efficacy of reading resources implemented at 23 struggling elementary schools in a large, urban district in the US. The schools were at risk of closure by the state.

Methods:

For each reading resource, we searched for existing effectiveness studies and collected professional judgements by surveying practitioners. We also used an expert survey to collect judgements from three reading experts. We compared the ratings among experts and between practitioners and experts. We also compared practitioner and expert judgements to evidence summaries from research repositories.

Findings:

We found evidence summaries in research repositories for only five of 23 reading resources used in the 23 schools. Experts showed poor to good agreement on ten questions about each resource. Agreement between practitioners and experts was low with practitioners generally rating resources more positively than reading experts.

Discussion and conclusions:

Practitioners may be overly optimistic about the efficacy of educational materials while experts have difficulty assessing how well the materials serve an unfamiliar population. In the absence of rigorous evaluations of locally-implemented programmes, district decision makers can review the consistency of evidence collected from practitioners and experts, along with external research evidence, to inform actions towards supporting and guiding struggling schools.

Open access

The growth of global digital ecosystems such as Google, Apple and Uber has led to radical changes in economic activity, work and consumption. It has also challenged established economic, social and organisation theory, which has clear limitations in understanding these phenomena. The discourses on these topics are conducted in various arenas, which are not linked, and conceptualise digital ecosystems differently. What kind of theoretical object is this? And what is the role of consumption in digital ecosystems? To investigate these issues, we conducted an investigation in two steps. First, we performed a focused and a comparative analysis of the research on platforms and digital ecosystems. We identified four research streams: the political, the economic, the technological, and the social and cultural. In the second step, we explored a typology of the role of consumption in the four streams, that is, the position in the ecosystem, the consumer agency and the currency of exchange. We associated the consumer as the critical actor of digital ecosystems, because the impact of digital ecosystem development hinges on the way in which consumers perform, accept and integrate the technology into their everyday lives. Our findings highlight that the relationship between consumption and digital technology is multifaceted and non-deterministic.

Open access

This article explores gendered meanings of both faithfulness and sexual exclusivity within intimate long-term relationships, and the implications for HIV prevention messaging. In 2011–12, in-depth interviews were conducted with a random sample of 50 men and women (52 per cent women) in long-term relationships in rural Uganda. Confirming prior research, we found that a double standard exists for sexual exclusivity, where men define faithfulness to mean strict sexual exclusivity by their wife, but women defined it as being for both partners. However, both men and women defined fidelity to imply continued support. Fidelity was perceived to be intact if a man continued to provide material support, despite not being sexually exclusive. These findings highlight the limitations of HIV prevention strategies that emphasise faithfulness, where faithfulness is not synonymous with sexual exclusivity.

Open access

This article analyses challenges for civil society research in superdiverse areas and proposes ways to overcome them. Key components of previous studies are problematised, such as the lack of attention to demographic complexity, the focus on formally registered organisations at the expense of informal ‘below the radar’ initiatives, the over-reliance on analyses using administrative data and building on dichotomous categorisations of social capital. The article calls for scholars to develop methodologies and theory that enable research across the full range of civil society activity. We argue for a holistic approach to researching civil society through comparative and mixed-methods designs that facilitate research about the nature of civil society action, its forms, patterns and experiences. The concept of ‘superdiversity’ is useful to reflect evolving demographic complexity, given age, gender, nationality, religion and immigration status, and divergent experiences of rights and the labour market.

Open access

Background

Local government (LG) is ideally placed to influence the determinants of public health (PH) and reduce inequalities, but opportunities are routinely missed.

Aims and objectives

The aim of the Local Authority Champions of Research (LACoR) study was to explore ways to embed a culture of evidence use in LG.

Methods

Five linked work packages were undertaken using mixed methods. In this paper, we report data from semi-structured interviews with UK local authority (LA) staff (n=14).

Findings

Findings show a changing culture of LG: embedded researchers can enhance connectivity and interaction, build linkages, use levers of influence, and learn alongside LG navigators. Understanding the diverse microcultures of evidence use in LG is critical. Research champions can help to navigate the social, financial, political and regulatory context of LG and academia, influencing change dynamically as opportunities emerge.

Discussion

Changing organisational subcultures is ambitious and unpredictable given the complexities of, and variability in, local contexts. Cumulative changes appear possible by recognising existing assets, using relational approaches to respond to LG priorities. In-house capacity remains underestimated and underutilised in efforts to embed evidence use in LG decision making. Co-located embedded researchers can use contextually specific knowledge and relationships to enhance evidence use in LG in collaboration with system navigators.

Conclusions

There is a need for academics to adapt their approach, to take account of the context of LG to achieve meaningful health and social impacts with LG and test the contribution of embedded approaches to wider system change.

Open access

Ever since Georg Simmel’s seminal works, social relations have been a central building block of sociological theory. In relational sociology, social identities are an essential concept and supposed to emerge in close interaction with other identities, discourses and objects. To assess this kind of relationality, existing research capitalises on patterns of meaning making that are constitutive for identities. These patterns are often understood as forms of declarative knowledge and are reconstructed, using qualitative methods, from denotative meanings as they surface: for example, in stories and narratives. We argue that this approach to some extent privileges explicit and conceptual knowledge over tacit and non-conceptual forms of knowledge. We suggest that affect is a concept that can adequately account for such implicit and bodily meanings, even when measured on the level of linguistic concepts. We draw on affect control theory (ACT) and related methods to investigate the affective meanings of concepts (lexemes) denoting identities in a large survey. We demonstrate that even though these meanings are widely shared across respondents, they nevertheless show systematic variation reflecting respondents’ positions within the social space and the typical interaction experiences associated with their identities. In line with ACT, we show, first, that the affective relations between exemplary identities mirror their prototypical, culturally circumscribed and institutionalised relations (for example, between role identities). Second, we show that there are systematic differences in these affective relations across gender, occupational status and regional culture, which we interpret as reflecting respondents’ subjective positioning and experience vis-à-vis a shared cultural reality.

Open access

Faced with unprecedented challenges, the adult social care sector in England has seen increasing attention given to the potential of volunteers to contribute to service provision. This article reports the findings of a qualitative study that explored the contribution made by volunteers to social care services for older people. The article draws attention to the difficulties associated with recruiting and training volunteers to work in the sector, particularly during a period of reduced public expenditure, which is putting the sector under strain. Given the challenges faced, the article considers whether it is appropriate to involve volunteers in care work.

Open access
Authors: Abigail Marks and Esme Terry

Based on data from over 70 interviews with people working in the home credit industry, this article makes a unique contribution to knowledge about work in sub-prime financial services. The article demonstrates how extant positions constructing home credit agents as ‘dirty workers’ are to some extent misleading, omitting analysis of the place(s) in which such work is enacted. Home credit has been established in disadvantaged, stigmatised communities for decades and is central to the history and geography of many working-class territories. Drawing on theory surrounding place and territorial stigma, this article considers the complicated relationship between the conflicting feelings of taint and value held by home credit workers, thus contributing to a more nuanced and contextually aware understanding of ‘dirty work’. Moreover, by exploring the value of home credit agents to their borrowers, it is possible to gain insights as to how to better structure financial support in low-income communities.

Open access