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The Politics of Evidence Based Policymaking identifies how to work with policymakers to maximize the use of scientific evidence. Policymakers cannot consider all evidence relevant to policy problems. They use two shortcuts: ‘rational’ ways to gather enough evidence, and ‘irrational’ decision-making, drawing on emotions, beliefs, and habits. Most scientific studies focus on the former. They identify uncertainty when policymakers have incomplete evidence, and try to solve it by improving the supply of information. They do not respond to ambiguity, or the potential for policymakers to understand problems in very different ways. A good strategy requires advocates to be persuasive: forming coalitions with like-minded actors, and accompanying evidence with simple stories to exploit the emotional or ideological biases of policymakers.
There has been an enormous increase in interest in the use of evidence for public policymaking, but the vast majority of work on the subject has failed to engage with the political nature of decision making and how this influences the ways in which evidence will be used (or misused) within political areas. This book provides new insights into the nature of political bias with regards to evidence and critically considers what an ‘improved’ use of evidence would look like from a policymaking perspective. Part I describes the great potential for evidence to help achieve social goals, as well as the challenges raised by the political nature of policymaking. It explores the concern of evidence advocates that political interests drive the misuse or manipulation of evidence, as well as counter-concerns of critical policy scholars about how appeals to ‘evidence-based policy’ can depoliticise political debates. Both concerns reflect forms of bias – the first representing technical bias, whereby evidence use violates principles of scientific best practice, and the second representing issue bias in how appeals to evidence can shift political debates to particular questions or marginalise policy-relevant social concerns. Part II then draws on the fields of policy studies and cognitive psychology to understand the origins and mechanisms of both forms of bias in relation to political interests and values. It illustrates how such biases are not only common, but can be much more predictable once we recognise their origins and manifestations in policy arenas. Finally, Part III discusses ways to move forward for those seeking to improve the use of evidence in public policymaking. It explores what constitutes ‘good evidence for policy’, as well as the ‘good use of evidence’ within policy processes, and considers how to build evidence-advisory institutions that embed key principles of both scientific good practice and democratic representation. Taken as a whole, the approach promoted is termed the ‘good governance of evidence’ – a concept that represents the use of rigorous, systematic and technically valid pieces of evidence within decision-making processes that are representative of, and accountable to, populations served.
This valuable book offers a distinct and critical showcase of emerging forms of discovery for policy-making drawing on the insights of some of the world’s leading authorities in public policy analysis.
Over the last twenty or so years, it has become standard to require policy makers to base their recommendations on evidence. That is now uncontroversial to the point of triviality--of course, policy should be based on the facts. But are the methods that policy makers rely on to gather and analyze evidence the right ones? In Evidence-Based Policy, Nancy Cartwright and Jeremy Hardie explain that the dominant methods which are in use now--broadly speaking, methods that imitate standard practices in medicine like randomized control trials--do not work. They fail, Cartwright and Hardie contend, because they do not enhance our ability to predict if policies will be effective.
The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.tandfebooks.com/, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 license. There has been an enormous increase in interest in the use of evidence for public policymaking, but the vast majority of work on the subject has failed to engage with the political nature of decision making and how this influences the ways in which evidence will be used (or misused) within political areas. This book provides new insights into the nature of political bias with regards to evidence and critically considers what an ‘improved’ use of evidence would look like from a policymaking perspective. Part I describes the great potential for evidence to help achieve social goals, as well as the challenges raised by the political nature of policymaking. It explores the concern of evidence advocates that political interests drive the misuse or manipulation of evidence, as well as counter-concerns of critical policy scholars about how appeals to ‘evidence-based policy’ can depoliticise political debates. Both concerns reflect forms of bias – the first representing technical bias, whereby evidence use violates principles of scientific best practice, and the second representing issue bias in how appeals to evidence can shift political debates to particular questions or marginalise policy-relevant social concerns. Part II then draws on the fields of policy studies and cognitive psychology to understand the origins and mechanisms of both forms of bias in relation to political interests and values. It illustrates how such biases are not only common, but can be much more predictable once we recognise their origins and manifestations in policy arenas. Finally, Part III discusses ways to move forward for those seeking to improve the use of evidence in public policymaking. It explores what constitutes ‘good evidence for policy’, as well as the ‘good use of evidence’ within policy processes, and considers how to build evidence-advisory institutions that embed key principles of both scientific good practice and democratic representation. Taken as a whole, the approach promoted is termed the ‘good governance of evidence’ – a concept that represents the use of rigorous, systematic and technically valid pieces of evidence within decision-making processes that are representative of, and accountable to, populations served.
This book explores the complex relationship between public health research and policy, employing tobacco control and health inequalities in the UK as contrasting case studies. It argues that focusing on research-informed ideas usefully draws attention to the centrality of values, politics and advocacy for public health debates.
Evidence-based policymaking is often promoted within liberal democracies as the best means for government to balance political values with technical considerations. Under the evidence-based mandate, both experts and non-experts often assume that policy problems are sufficiently tractable and that experts can provide impartial and usable advice to government so that problems like climate change adaptation can be effectively addressed; at least, where there is political will to do so. This book compares the politics and science informing climate adaptation policy in Australia and the UK to understand how realistic these expectations are in practice. At a time when both academics and practitioners have repeatedly called for more and better science to anticipate climate change impacts and, thereby, to effectively adapt, this book explains why a dearth of useful expert evidence about future climate is not the most pressing problem. Even when it is sufficiently credible and relevant for decision-making, climate science is often ignored or politicised to ensure the evidence-based mandate is coherent with prevailing political, economic and epistemic ideals. There are other types of policy knowledge too that are, arguably, much more important. This comparative analysis reveals what the politics of climate change mean for both the development of useful evidence and for the practice of evidence-based policymaking.

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