Forms of Knowledge and Knowing in Policy Work
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I want to begin this final chapter by offering some reflections on my own practices of knowing and knowledge use in the process of producing this book, and how they compare to those of the civil servants. Inquiry is not outside of practice, and some of the ways in which I learnt how to study knowledge use in the Department of Health resembled how the civil servants themselves learnt how to make policy there. There were no codified rules which specified how I should apply to conduct research in the department or whom I could ask for help, and yet it soon became clear that there were some ways of requesting access which were considered by the department’s staff to be more appropriate than others, and that some approaches were more effective than others. Cold call style emails to very senior members of staff yielded no response at all. To secure research access, and to refine my research design, I had to learn some of the local cultural rules of the department: the ways in which the civil servants behaved differently in email exchanges compared to face-to-face interactions; the different social interaction styles which characterised the various units; the importance of securing senior sponsorship for any kind of project in the department; the means of identifying suitably powerful, and potentially sympathetic, patrons; and how to approach those patrons via less senior intermediaries.
KeywordsCivil Servant Work Practice Knowledge Claim Policy Work Policy Literature
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