Panel no. 21 - An Anthropology of Policy: Legacies and Future Challenges


Title Dr First name Paul Last name Stubbs
Institution The Institute of Economics City Zagreb Country HR


Title Prof First name Cris Last name Shore
Institution name Goldsmiths, University of London City London Country GB


Panel title

An Anthropology of Policy: Legacies and Future Challenges

Panel abstract

Anthropological approaches to policy shine light on aspects of the policy process that mainstream, objectivist or legal-rationalist accounts rarely address, highlighting the complex, non-linear, ambiguous, messy and sometimes contradictory nature of policy processes. Using ethnography to open up the "black box" of policy making serves to highlight the sociocultural and political dimensions of policy worlds. Anthropological perspectives on policy also explore policy mobilities and policy translation in terms of transnational and international dimensions of policy within a world of global flows. Seeing policies as "social and political spaces articulated through relations of power and governance" (Shore and Wright, 1997) links policy inexorably to power, and sees policy documents as a specific genre of meaning making. More recent work has brought human and non-human agency back in, suggesting that policies are actively made or assembled and remade by reflexive political subjects. This panel seeks papers, theoretical and/or ethnographic, that utilise an anthropology of policy approach, however loosely defined. What are some of the "next generation" forms of policy making and how can anthropologists analyse and critique these? We are particularly interested in papers that address current and future methodological and ethical challenges, and how anthropological approaches can address issues of big data, democracy, new forms of governance, the role of artificial intelligence, and the changing relationship between politics technocracy and policy. How is the work of policy implicated in constructing the present and shaping the future?

IUAES Commission

American Anthropological Association, Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP)