Relationality as a lens for policy analysis?
Working with good MA and Ph.D. students is what I enjoy most in my work. Lecturing and discussions are also very nice, but nothing can beat coaching, mentoring and helping others achieve their professional/personal goals rooted in curiosity. Of course, when my curiosity is combined with theirs, it becomes even more energizing.
One such project was an MA thesis written by Aditya (Aditya Alta) from the MA batch 2018/2019. He brought together two subjects that I find fascinating: policy translation and discourse analysis, and wrote a very competent RP titled “Santa-Claus Aid” (accessible here). Important feedback was given by my former colleague Sarah Hardus, too. It was a nice research project to supervise in my first year at ISS. We then started off on a journey of making it into a journal article. Along the way, I learned about exciting research on relationality as a lens for policy analysis advanced, among others, by such scholars as Raul Lejano, Koen Bartels/Nick Turnbull and many many others. The result is to read here, published earlier this week in a special issue on leaning in Administration & Society (the articles appear sequentially as they get ready).
“We argue that a relational lens may provide new insights in policy analysis and we build on ideas from Lejano and others to show how attention to policy narratives and identities of actors can serve the purposes of such analysis. In the world where there are always conflicts, mismatches of interests and expectations and different goals, it’s important to understand how narrative coherence is produced and how diversity and pluralism are preserved in unity. Perhaps policy translation’s major task is that — understanding this diversity/pluralism in unity that a policy becomes in order to exist/survive. We hope the article offers some answers to those dealing with these questions”.
One big limitation of this article is that we looked at the process more than at the substance of the policy — gender mainstreaming in Fiji. I am sure that the policy content influenced the way the project was implemented. Alas, one must focus and one must have data. Perhaps future researchers can avoid this trap of doing process oriented work without turning a blind eye on substance of these policies.
We would be curious about feedback — both on the content and methodologies we suggest/operationalize here. Please, email me or Aditya with your thoughts/ideas.
The article is titled “Relationality as a Lens for Policy Analysis: Preserving Harmony in a Triangular Cooperation Project to Strengthen Gender Mainstreaming in Fiji” and is available here. You can also download the pdf here is inaccessible on the website.