Meeting, talk and text: policy and politics in practice

Richard Freeman University of Edinburgh, UK

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Articles in the Research Provocations section do not simply summarise an existing debate, theme or body of scholarship. Instead, they offer fresh perspectives, develop theoretical advancements and highlight emergent research agendas. This section offers the opportunity for authors to launch high-profile critiques, to showcase acute but comprehensive contributions and to initiate challenging dialogues.

In this Research Provocation, Richard Freeman presents an engaging and thoughtprovoking proposition that existing accounts of the policy process have neglected microlevel practices of politics (talk and text), and consequently have have marginalised the micro-sites of policymaking (the gathering, the encounter and the meeting). To make this argument, he brings together literature from the fields of sociology, political theory and public administration, and makes a case for reconsidering what exactly constitutes the practice of policymaking.

Do you agree with Richard’s argument? To what extent does this account reflect your own academic or practitioner experience? Would you like to respond to Richard’s argument in the pages of Policy & Politics? If so, please get in touch with us to discuss it further!

Our prevailing accounts of the policy process are challenged by studies of practice as well as by practitioners themselves. This paper sets out an alternative, grounded in politics and sociology and informed by recent work in related disciplines. Drawing on the foundational work of Arendt and Goffman, it begins in the essential dynamics of the gathering, the encounter and the meeting. It considers the extent to which each is realised in talk, and in the production and reproduction of texts. Policy and politics seek to establish and maintain a ‘definition of the situation’ and what might follow from it: the purpose of the paper is to match theoretical and empirical accounts of this process with the activity and experience of its practitioners.

Richard Freeman University of Edinburgh, UK

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May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
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