Reflections on contemporary debates in policy studies

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This article offers reflections on contemporary debates in policy studies. It starts by mapping the contours of the terrain covered by Policy & Politics over the last 40 years. It does so under four headings: (1) theorising policy (2) evidence and the policy process (3) transforming structures and processes and (4) implementation and practice. It then uses these headings to draw out themes from the articles comprising this 40th anniversary special issue. We conclude by arguing for greater tolerance of diversity in theoretical and empirical enquiry and for continued reflection on the foundational assumptions of the field of policy studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-663
Number of pages21
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Sarah Ayres is Reader in Public Policy and Governance at the University of Bristol. She is a political scientist with expertise in public administration and theories of policy making. Her research is concerned with devolution and decentralisation in an international context, with a particular emphasis on analysing inter-governmental relations between central and local actors. This work has explored the role of partnership working and network management in the governance of territory.

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristol
  • policy studies
  • policy analysis
  • public policy
  • critical analysis


  • policy studies
  • policy analysis
  • public policy
  • evidence
  • governance
  • implementation
  • evaluation


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