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Author: Gerry Stoker

The governance paradigm has provided a dominant way of thinking about how to govern and found reflection in practice with the increased use of partnerships, networks and markets to deliver public services and programmes. The emergence of populism as a political force, however, calls into question the thinking behind the governance paradigm and some of its favoured tools for governing. Populism sees the task of governing in very different terms to that of the advocates and practitioners of governance. This article explores the populist challenge to governance. It shows that gaps in its analysis of a changed environment left the governance paradigm potentially open to populist attack. It explores how the governance paradigm might adapt to survive by developing either a more technical or a political dynamic to its presentation.

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Methods that matter
Editors: Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

Drawing on the insights of some of the world’s leading authorities in public policy analysis, this important book offers a distinct and critical showcase of emerging forms of discovery for policy-making. Chapter by chapter this expert group of social scientists showcase their chosen method or approach, showing the context, the method’s key features and how it can be applied in practice, including the scope and limitations of its application and value to policy makers. Arguing that it is not just econometric analysis, cost benefit or surveys that can do policy work, the contributors demonstrate a range of other methods that can provide evidenced-based policy insights and how they can help facilitate progressive policy outcomes. The book will be ideal for upper level undergraduate students as well as Public Policy post-graduates, and can be used as the basis of an intensive learning experience for policy makers.

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Authors: Peter John and Gerry Stoker

Nudge and behavioural public policy tools have won support from governments across the world for improving the effectiveness of public interventions. Yet nudge still attracts strong criticisms for promoting paternalism and manipulation as legitimate government actions. To move beyond this divide, this paper offers a comprehensive reorientation, which is necessary because the intellectual foundations of the policy are at fault. A more secure foundation can be achieved by expanding the cognitive scope of behavioural policy, and ensuring that it does not rely on the narrow assumption that intuitive reasoning is flawed and that expert advice is always preferable. This shift in the cognitive range of nudge moves behavioural policy toward citizen reflection and initiative, pointing away from expert-led interventions. It amounts to more than incremental advances in nudge practice. As a result, nudge can escape the charge of not respecting individual autonomy. What we call ‘nudge plus’ would link more closely with other types of governmental intervention that embrace citizen involvement.

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This article presents an evaluation of a radical decentralisation initiative under-taken by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It considers the degree to which the initiative has improved service delivery and involved residents in decision-making. Decentralisation emerges not as a ‘cure-all’ for the problems of local government but as presenting some advantages. A second article to be published in the next issue of the journal will examine decentralisation from the perspective of staff and councillors.

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This article examines the work of ministerial special advisers who play a key but underresearched role in transmitting policy ideas in government. We argue that this focus is necessary to challenge the reification of neoliberalism as an explanatory determinant of policy making. Initially we discuss the literature on the transmission of social science ideas into policy making, contrasting this with a governmentality approach. We then consider the role of UK special advisers, illustrating this empirically by drawing on advisers’ reflections of their role. We conclude by highlighting ambiguity, inconsistency and agency in the takeup and deployment of ideas in policy making.

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Internal political efficacy (that is, beliefs about one’s ability to process and participate effectively in politics) is known to be shaped by factors such as levels of interest in politics, trust in institutions and awareness of political developments and debates. In this article, we show that the task environment also has an impact on internal political efficacy, and that little research has been done on this issue. We draw on data from focus groups in Australia, where citizens were asked to make political judgements in contrasting task environments: state elections and the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite. We examine four features of task environments: framing choice; issue content; the nature of available cues; and whether the task environment stimulates cognitive effort. We conclude that concerns about the internal political efficacy of voters should be addressed by exploring how the task environment created for political choice might be made more amenable in order to improve the political judgement of citizens.

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Authors: Gerry Stoker and Tim Brindley

This article focuses on an incident, a series of events in the political life of an English city. The case in question deals with a proposal to demolish over 50 houses in the Grand Union Housing Action Area in Leicester, in 1983. The demolition plan represented a desire on the part of officers and councillors of the City Council to increase the rate of replacement of the housing stock and to break away from a policy which relied almost exclusively on improvement and repair. The plan met considerable resistance from local residents, who were predominantly Asian owner-occupiers. It split the local Labour party and was eventually abandoned.

Having described the case the paper seeks to extract from it a number of general political relationships and policy considerations. The technique of using a study of the actions of individuals and groups within a particular situation to exhibit the nature of the broader social or political structure has been widely and successfully used in social anthropology (Gluckman, 1940; Epstein, 1967). While obviously limited by its particular focus, it provides a convenient and interesting way of raising important issues and opening up areas of debate.

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This article continues an evaluation of a radical decentralisation initiative in the london Borough of Tower Hamlets by looking at the scheme from the perspective of staff and councillors. Decentralisation clearly presents different advantages and disadvantages to the various stakeholders involved in its introduction. In a concluding section we move beyond these particular perspectives to consider how the experience of Tower Hamlets can be fed into debates about the future organisation and role of local government.

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Authors: Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

The conclusion makes an argument for how the relationship between policy and social science could be improved.

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Authors: Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

This chapter looks at the tensions between the making of public policy and the offering of evidence from social science. Social science and policymaking are not natural ‘best’ friends. Policymakers express frustration that social science often appears to have little of relevance to say and social scientists will regularly complain that policymakers are not interested in using their evidence. Yet the two groups appear, almost against the will of the participants in them, to be thrown together. Policymakers are told to evidence their policies and social scientists are urged to step up to provide that evidence. The aim of this chapter is to help improve that situation by identifying some of the main blockages on either side of the social science and policy making fence and see how they can be addressed.

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