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Tom Baker and Christopher Walker

Contemporary policy work is deeply informed by the circulation of policy initiatives and models from other jurisdictions. Sometimes close and at other times distant, the influence of various ‘elsewheres’ (Allen and Cochrane, 2007) has become a routine feature of the policy process. Researchers from a range of academic disciplines have matched the increased traffic of policy knowledge with a growing body of knowledge that seeks to document and understand it. While political scientists have the longest history of engagement with travelling policy, anthropologists, geographers, sociologists, urban planners and other social scientists have joined the fray in recent years, creating a lively multidisciplinary research effort (Benson and Jordan, 2011; McCann and Ward, 2012). Yet, for the most part, this research effort has been disjointed. Despite having a common interest at their core (the movement of policy), there are largely separate conversations occurring, structured around concepts such as policy diffusion, policy learning, policy transfer and policy mobility. These conversations have ‘lived together apart’ for some time now, but appear to be converging toward a focus on diverse arenas, agents and actions implicated in the circulation of policy. We have also seen shifts from structure–agency binaries to notions of contextually-embedded agency, from neat, spatially and temporally delimited processes to messy, ongoing processes, and from an exclusive interest in the ‘why’ of travelling policy to a broader set of research questions regarding the ‘how’. In this book we use ‘policy circulation’ as an expedient umbrella term that signifies this emergent zone of common ground.

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Tom Baker and Pauline McGuirk

Why does policy tourism remain a popular and influential method of policy circulation in an age of information abundance? Framed by a case study of homelessness policy tourism to New York City, this chapter suggests that policy tourism remains popular because it allows for (1) thinking outside the everyday strictures of the bureaucratic workplace; (2) the development of associational bonds between policy tourists, and between tourists and hosts; (3) the verification of information; and (4) the legitimation of decisions/positions. Noting the powerful influence that tourist encounters have on policy tourists, the chapter then discusses the production of authenticity. The chapter calls for greater attention to the active and affective production of authenticity as a means to better understand policy tourism and its significant impact on policy circulation.

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Public Policy Circulation

Arenas, Agents and Actions

Edited by Tom Baker and Christopher Walker

Policy-making is more globally connected than ever before. Policy ideas, experiences and expertise circulate with great speed and over great distances. But who is involved in moving policy, how do they do it, and through which arenas? This book examines the work involved in policy circulation. As the first genuinely interdisciplinary collection on policy circulation, the book showcases theoretical approaches from across the social sciences—including policy diffusion, transfer and mobility—and offers empirical perspectives from across the world.
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Cristina Temenos, Tom Baker and Ian R. Cook

This chapter explores ‘mobile urbanism’ through the lens of urban policy mobilities. We discuss how scholars understand the movement of policies between cities. In doing so, the chapter focuses on dualisms that underpin the circulation of policies and the people who move them, namely relationality/territoriality, global/local and fixity/mobility to highlight key aspects of urban policy mobility. It then examines the different elements of mobility, such as knowledge, people, materials and politics that mobile policies are dependent upon. Empirically, the chapter starts and ends with visits to two post-war high-rise developments – the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille and the Park Hill estate in Sheffield – to illustrate the dualisms and related mobilities connected to policy mobilization.

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Tom Baker, Mauricio I. Dussauge-Laguna, Roosa Jolkkonen, Olga Löblová, Pauline McGuirk, Sergio Montero, Michelle Morais de Sá e Silva, Alexandru Rusu, Titilayo Soremi, Jennifer Spence, Christopher Walker and Astrid Wood

Like philosophy, the study of policy circulation has become pluralistic and we too are faced with the question of how best to respond to such pluralism. This chapter, and the book it summarises along the way, offers one way forward. First, the chapter discusses a range of possibilities open to scholars of policy circulation in grappling with the plurality of their research field. Inspired by recent discussions in other heterodox fields of social scientific research, we argue that, to date, policy circulation studies have often been fragmented under the labels of policy diffusion, transfer, learning or mobilities. This exemplifies a form of ‘fragmenting pluralism’ that falls short of proper dialogic interaction across different research traditions and disciplines (Dolowitz and Marsh, 2012; McCann and Ward, 2012) and, indeed, often becomes an obstacle to advance knowledge on the what, how and why of policy circulation (Dussauge-Laguna, 2012; Cook, 2015). Following Bernstein (1989), we suggest that consciously embarking on a collegiate project of ‘engaged pluralism’ offers one route to a trans-disciplinary, not simply multi-disciplinary, research endeavour. Second, the chapter discusses the practices involved in creating the ‘trading zones’ (Barnes and Sheppard, 2010) through which engaged pluralism might take root in policy circulation studies, including a commitment to intellectual openness, the creation of venues for dialogue, and the (de/re)construction of coordinating concepts. We recount the circumstances involved in the creation of this book as a humble, and in many ways accidental, example of such practices.