Skip to content

Reflections on contemporary debates in policy studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-663
Number of pages21
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number4
DatePublished - Oct 2013


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.

Additional information

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

    Research areas

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

Download statistics

No data available



  • PURE SA-AM P&P 2013

    Rights statement: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of an article published in Policy and Politics. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Policy & Politics, Volume 41, Number 4, October 2013, pp. 643-663(21) is available online at:

    Accepted author manuscript, 314 KB, PDF document



View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups