Feminising Politics to Close the Evidence-Policy Gap: The Case of Social Policy in Scotland

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Policy studies suggest that scientists should adopt two strategies to close the ‘evidence-policy gap’. First, engage in political debates to help define policy problems and solutions rather than expect the evidence to speak for itself. Second, learn where the action is, form long-term coalitions, and exploit the ‘rules of the game’ to maximise your influence in complex policy-making systems. Both lessons can prompt major dilemmas, for many actors, about going beyond your expertise and comfort zone when engaging politically and pragmatically. Scientists should learn from feminist social policy actors who routinely (a) combine evidence with engagement to pursue social change, and (b) face tough choices about framing their aims in terms of the dominant political discourse. We use Scottish social policy as a case study, examining how feminist actors exploited the opportunity, afforded by constitutional and political reforms since 1999, to create a collaborative ‘velvet triangle’ between the government, academia, and interest groups. Their experience suggests that limited and slow policy change requires major engagement and compromise.




Cairney, P., & Rummery, K. (2018). Feminising Politics to Close the Evidence-Policy Gap: The Case of Social Policy in Scotland. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 77(4), 542–553. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8500.12266

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