New Research – Policy Agendas in British Politics

A new book entitled Policy Agendas in British Politics will be available from Palgrave-Macmillan this Summer.  It is a product of an inspiring collaboration with Peter John (University College London), Will Jennings (University of Southampton) and Shaun Bevan (University of Mannheim). Using a unique dataset covering half a century of policymaking in Britain, this book traces how topics like the economy, international affairs, and crime have changed in their importance to government. The data concern key venues of decisionmaking – the Queen’s Speech, laws and budgets – as well as the media and public opinion. These trends are conveyed through accessible figures backed up by a series of examples of important policies. As a result, the book sheds new light on the key points of change in British politics, such as Thatcherism and New Labour, and explores different approaches to agenda setting helping to account for these changes: incrementalism, the issue attention cycle and the punctuated equilibrium model.  What results is the development of a new approach to agenda setting labeled focused adaptation whereby policymakers respond to structural shifts in the underlying pattern of attention. 

We were most grateful to the following scholars for their endorsements:

“Policy Agendas in British Politics presents a novel overview of British politics and policy-making across the past two generations. The result is a new understanding of the dynamics of British politics, one that tests rather than assumes the impact of such things as changes in Prime Ministerial leadership, external shocks, or institutional design. The impressive empirical work, combined with careful theorizing and attention to previous works of many types will guarantee a wide and well deserved audience in Britain and beyond.”— Frank Baumgartner, University of North Carolina

“A new and innovative lens through which to analyse and understand policy prioritisation in the UK since 1945: new in its heuristic – of ‘focused adaptation,’ new in its dataset, new in its use of change point analysis, and new in its challenges to existing academic orthodoxies about pol- icy stability and change. New is good.” — David Judge, University of Strathclyde

“This book is a very innovative and carefully executed piece of scholarship: a careful analysis of the Queen’s Speech as a means of exploring policy agendas has not been undertaken before. The model of focused adaptation provides an interesting and potentially very useful addition to existing theoretical frameworks. It represents a valuable addition to the public policy literature.” — Wyn Grant, University of Warwick

We hope you will find it of interest!