Daily Archives: June 29, 2022

What is essential reading in policy process research?

The first Conference on Policy Process Research (COPPR) takes place in January 2023, online and in person (Denver).

I’m thinking of proposing an online panel (without paper presentations) that asks: what is essential reading in policy process research?

Put another way, if you were guiding students who were relatively new to public policy studies, what would you want them to know?

My motivation is fairly instrumental. I will be writing the third edition of Understanding Public Policy, reflecting on what is in there, what is absent, and what changes to make as a result (and thinking of how to update the 500 and 1000 word summaries). What do I need to discuss more, and what should I cut to make space? For example:

  1. The book focuses on ‘mainstream’ policy theories and does not have much discussion of interpretive or critical approaches (although this series does more). If I were to shift the balance, what insights would be essential?
  2. If I were to devote a lot more space to (say) the study of gender or race, should it be mainstreamed throughout every chapter (e.g. many chapters discuss a major policy theory) or consolidated in dedicated chapters (e.g. the chapter on power)?
  3. The first edition’s conclusion focused on how to combine theoretical insights. The second focused on the dominance of the field by authors in a small number of Global North countries (especially in the US and Western Europe). What should be the concluding theme of the third?
  4. From what approaches (e.g. to teaching public policy with the aid of written material) can I learn?
  5. Are there better ways to foster learning than someone like me writing textbooks and explainers?

These are just some early (and perhaps self-indulgent) thoughts on what to discuss.

If you were thinking of proposing something with a similar theme, or would like to collaborate to design this panel proposal, please let me know.

Or, if you were to attend a panel like this, who else would you want to hear from? For example, it could be a panel composed of people who write introductory textbooks or (say) people who use them for teaching or read them during their studies.

Any ideas welcome (by August), either by commenting below or emailing me directly (p.a.cairney@stir.ac.uk).


Filed under Academic innovation or navel gazing