Public 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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Chapter 12: Prospects for policy circulation studies: towards engaged pluralism?

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

Abstract

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.

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