The politics of policy practices

Gill, Natalie and Singleton, Dorothy Victoria and Waterton, Claire Frances Jane (2017) The politics of policy practices. The Sociological Review, 65 (2 Supp). pp. 3-19. ISSN 0038-0261

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This collection explores the relations between policy and care drawing on two specific sources of inspiration – that of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and that of Critical Policy Studies. It takes as its starting point a tension within and between the anticipated features of policy and those of care. Policy is often expected to provide general statements, protocols and directives, measurable outcomes, targets and indicators in order to guide and control. But policy – no less than care – is also a set of open-ended practices; policy is performed and re-performed in particular sites and settings and by particular actors, and so it is also a specific kind of ongoing and distributed ‘doing’. It is not simply a generalised dictate. Characteristics of care, similarly, hold opposing dynamics in play. As well as configuring care as responsive, hesitant, situated and experimental practice (Mol et al 2010: 14), recent feminist research in STS has opened up questions about the non-innocence of care (Martin et al., 2015). Care has been enacted within particular histories where inequities of race, gender and power have often been to the fore. So, according to STS, both care and policy are practices: these practices mix humans and non-humans, and they are intimate with and implicated in technoscience. Policy, for example, has been examined as a technology (Harrison and Mort, 1998; Easthope and Mort, 2014) and care as technogovernance (May et al., 2006). As such, both policy and care distribute relations of power and generate categories of difference. This collection has been put together at a time of seeming crisis in both policy and care. Care, including an alleged loss of care in public services, has become a focus of increased public concern, political debate and academic research in the UK, Europe and US. Moreover, many policies have been exposed as ineffective, harmful or deliberately weak. Hence it seems that there is currently a crisis in care that is bound up with a realisation that ‘policies’ are not care-full enough and may promote relations of neglect and suffering. This volume draws inevitably from this context, offering a collection of case studies of locations, relations and heterogeneous entities that make up policy practices in various sites. The contributions explore the different ways in which policy and care are entangled in these sites and at this time. The aim of the collection is to attend to, and engage in, the politics of policy practices – and, ultimately, to explore how policy is and could be care.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
The Sociological Review
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Sociological Review, 65 (Suppl. 2), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Sociological Review page: SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? carepolicypoliticstechnosciencesociology and political science ??
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Deposited On:
25 Apr 2018 14:36
Last Modified:
28 Jun 2024 23:57