Social and Public Policy

As the leading publisher in Social and Public Policy, we publish in the core social sciences to highlight social issues, advance debate and positively influence policy and practice. 

Our list leads the way on conversations around inequality and social injustice featuring authors such as Peter Townsend, Kayleigh Garthwaite, Danny Dorling, Pete Alcock, John Hills and Bob Jessop. Series including the International Library of Policy Analysis and Research in Comparative and Global Social Policy bring international, high-quality scholarship together in order to address globally shared challenges.

Our key journals in this field are the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, an internationally unique forum for leading research on the themes of poverty and social justice, Policy & Politics, ranked 15th of 49 in Public Administration and celebrated its 50th year in 2022, and Evidence & Policy, dedicated to comprehensive and critical assessment of the relationship between researchers and the evidence they produce and the concerns of policy makers and practitioners.

Social and Public Policy

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Policy design has returned to the centre of discussions of public policy, both for academics and practitioners. With that interest in policy design has come an interest in organisations and institutions that will do the designing, with much of the interest being in structures such as policy laboratories that attempt to foster innovation. These organisations tend to exist outside government hierarchies and support collaborative designing with stakeholders and citizens. This paper examines the potential of these structures from an organisational perspective. Although they do offer great promise as sources of innovation they also confront a number of institutional barriers and dilemmas. This paper focuses on those barriers and dilemmas, as well as some possible means of overcoming them.

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The strategy of recasting challenges into ‘culture wars’ was only one element of a much larger repertoire. The Johnson government (like others) sought to ‘retool the state’, aiming to shrink democratic capacities and to enlarge policing powers. State centralisation, anti-democratic strategies, deepening authoritarianism and a narrowing conception of ‘the people’ dominated – and return us to the problematic of ‘policing the crisis’. This chapter explores the ways in which the condensed crises and proliferating disaffection and dissent created instabilities that profoundly unsettled both the Conservative government (and Party) and the dominant bloc.

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In recent years, design approaches to policy-making have gained popularity among policy-makers. However, a critical reflection on their added value and on how contemporary ‘design-thinking’ approaches relates to the classical idea of public administration as a design science is still lacking. This introductory chapter reflects upon the use of design approaches in public administration. We delve into the more traditional ideas of design, as launched by Simon, and policy design, but also into the present-day design wave, stemming from traditional design sciences. Based upon this we distinguish between three ideal-type approaches of design currently characterizing the discipline: design as optimization; design as exploration; and design as co-creation. More rigorous empirical analyses of applications of these approaches is necessary to further develop public administration as a design science. We reflect upon the question how a more designerly way of thinking can help to improve public administration and public policy.

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This introduction establishes the key concerns and approaches of the book. It introduces the ‘Battle for Britain’, noting that different accounts of, and time frames for, the conflicts involved exist. The Introduction argues instead for an approach through conjunctural analysis, treating a conjuncture as a distinctive configuration of time and space in which multiple contradictions, conflicts and crises are condensed. The Introduction briefly traces the significance of this approach in Cultural Studies and my own relationship to it. It then provides a summary outline of the ten chapters of the book.

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Brexit exemplified the ways in which the national question became central to contemporary political movements; yet it needs to be revisited in the space between ‘methodological nationalism’ and ‘methodological globalism’. My exploration of the spatial aspects of the spatio-temporal formation of the conjuncture starts from conceiving places as the nodes of multiple spatial relationships (following Doreen Massey). Concretely, this is developed through an examination of the transnational relationships that dominate the formation of Britain (exemplified in the figures of America, Empire and Europe). These are difficult, ambivalent and contested relationships as the recent struggles over Europe indicate. At the same time, the unstable formation of the ‘United Kingdom’ has become increasingly unsettled by Brexit and its aftermath. Internal and external relationships have been recast by the rise of a distinctive variant of English Nationalism.

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This book addresses the social, political and economic turbulence in which the UK is embroiled. Drawing on approaches from Cultural Studies, it explores proliferating crises and conflicts, from the multiplying varieties of social dissent through the stagnation of rentier capitalism to the looming climate catastrophe.

Examining arguments about Brexit, class and ‘race’, and the changing character of the state, the book is underpinned by a transnational and relational conception of the UK, ranging from the legacies of Empire to the turbulent relationships with Europe. It traces the entangled dynamics of time and space that have shaped the current conjuncture. In the process it gives particular attention to the rise of nationalist populism and its implications for an increasingly disunited Kingdom.

It gives particular attention to the political-cultural work of articulation that underpins the assembling of political blocs – rather than assuming that Britain is divided by identity politics. It focuses on the stresses and strains in the current bloc.

Questioning whether increasingly anti-democratic and authoritarian strategies can provide a resolution to these troubles, it examines how the accumulating crises and conflicts have produced a deepening ‘crisis of authority’ that forms the terrain of the Battle for Britain.

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Author:

This book addresses the social, political and economic turbulence in which the UK is embroiled. Drawing on approaches from Cultural Studies, it explores proliferating crises and conflicts, from the multiplying varieties of social dissent through the stagnation of rentier capitalism to the looming climate catastrophe.

Examining arguments about Brexit, class and ‘race’, and the changing character of the state, the book is underpinned by a transnational and relational conception of the UK, ranging from the legacies of Empire to the turbulent relationships with Europe. It traces the entangled dynamics of time and space that have shaped the current conjuncture. In the process it gives particular attention to the rise of nationalist populism and its implications for an increasingly disunited Kingdom.

It gives particular attention to the political-cultural work of articulation that underpins the assembling of political blocs – rather than assuming that Britain is divided by identity politics. It focuses on the stresses and strains in the current bloc.

Questioning whether increasingly anti-democratic and authoritarian strategies can provide a resolution to these troubles, it examines how the accumulating crises and conflicts have produced a deepening ‘crisis of authority’ that forms the terrain of the Battle for Britain.

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The chapter explores the potential benefits to public policy of combining traditional evaluative inquiry with insights developed dynamically in policy labs. Twenty leading labs from five continents are critically analysed through a literature review as well as policy and programme evaluation practices, assessing the extent to which the purpose, structures and processes used in policy labs address three challenges: (1) establishing the causality and value of public interventions, (2) explaining mechanisms of change, and (3) utilising research findings in public policy. The chapter concludes that creating synergies between evaluation inquiry and policy labs can improve the design and implementation of public policy and programmes.

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The Added Value of Design Thinking for Public Administration and Public Policy

Design approaches to policymaking have gained increasing popularity among policymakers in recent years.

First published as a special issue of Policy & Politics, this book presents original critical reflections on the value of design approaches and how they relate to the classical idea of public administration as a design science. Contributors consider the potential, challenges and applications of design approaches and distinguish between three methods currently characterising the discipline: design as optimisation, design as exploration and design as co-creation.

Developing the dialogue around public administration as a design science, this collection explores how a more ‘designerly’ way of thinking can improve public administration and public policy.

The articles on which Chapters 4, 5 and 6 are based are available Open Access under CC-BY-NC licence.

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In this final chapter we reflect upon the application of more designerly, and thus creative or playful, ways of making policy, the ‘second face of public sector design’ (Clarke and Craft, 2018), how they relate to the more traditional forms of design, and what their pitfalls and promises are. Moreover, we reflect upon the consequences of this transition for the way in which public organizations should be designed and managed. In this chapter, we first sketch the potentials of designerly ways of making policies, as well as their pitfalls. We then reflect upon the relation between ‘old’ and ‘new’ approaches of policy design and the evolution we can witness. It seems that traditional and more recent approaches are combined or blended together in many ways.

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