Some reflections on Tom O’Regan’s “Some Reflections on the ‘Policy Moment’”

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This short reflective piece revisits Tom O’Regan’s article “Some Reflections on the ‘Policy Moment’” from 1992. Tom’s intervention in the cultural policy debate which raged at that time was magisterial, wide ranging and inclusive. He saw the argument for policy to frame engaged scholarly activity as limiting the social relevance of the humanities and social sciences. Whereas the traditional ‘inclusive and abstract’ injunction to be relevant was fashioned in such a way as not to prescribe the form of engagement, the policy injunction limits relevance to what ‘can be made actionable, publicly endorsed, institutionally sanctioned and found useful by government tribunals, policy-makers and other actors directly involved in the policy process’. This narrowing, he argued, misrecognises the multifaceted nature of policy formation and debate. I reflect on how Tom’s position, and that of Meaghan Morris, has influenced me subsequently through a brief discussion of various scholarly personae that the engaged scholar can adopt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-396
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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