Category Archives: Symbolic politics

Government-sponsored policy research: getting the right balance between academic quality and ‘usefulness’

I was recently reviewing a (non-UK) government-sponsored research centre, and was struck by the tension between two goals. On the one hand, the government funders were keen to ensure the centre had solid academic credentials, and was carrying out work … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Research & Policy, Symbolic politics | 2 Comments

Paradoxes in the Use of Expertise in the Scottish Independence Debate

In a wonderfully perceptive article from 1999, German sociologist Peter Weingart identifies two paradoxes surrounding the use of science in political debate (and we can apply this to expertise more generally). First, late modern societies show an unprecedented dependence on … Continue reading

Posted in Research & Policy, Scottish independence, Symbolic politics | 2 Comments

On the latest Home Office fiasco: Immigration, political pressure and organizational pathologies

Another week, another Home Office scandal involving the UK Border Agency. Yes, we’ve been here before – most notably in 2006 when Labour’s John Reid was Home Secretary and famously declared the Home Office ‘not fit for purpose’. But the … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Symbolic politics, Targets | Leave a comment

Why ‘real’ policy impact is so difficult to evidence

Many of us recently went through the painful experience of trying to evidence the impact of research on policy, as part of the REF 2014 process. One of the problems with this endeavour is that policy-makers are likely to be … Continue reading

Posted in Research & Policy, Symbolic politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Paper on the Political Functions of Independent Commissions

A new paper co-authored with Alistair Hunter has just been published in the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. Building on earlier work on the symbolic uses of expert knowledge, the paper explores the different political uses of independent commissions on immigration/integration policy … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Research & Policy, Symbolic politics | Leave a comment

Targets in Public Policy: Disciplining or Signaling?

A new paper I prepared for the PSA conference in Manchester next week explores the functions of targets in UK immigration and asylum policy. It’s part of our ongoing project on the Politics of Monitoring. The paper examines the tensions between … Continue reading

Posted in Immigration, Symbolic politics, Targets | 2 Comments

Targets: damned if you do, damned if you don’t

It seemed like a good idea at the time. As a government, you wanted to signal your commitment to certain political goals, through binding yourself to a number of public, transparent targets. At the same time, setting a target seemed … Continue reading

Posted in Symbolic politics, Targets | 3 Comments