Special advisers and the transmission of ideas from the policy primeval soup

Francesca Gains, Gerry Stoker

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    This article examines the work of ministerial special advisers who play a key but underresearched role in transmitting policy ideas in government. We argue that this focus is necessary to challenge the reification of neoliberalism as an explanatory determinant of policy making. Initially we discuss the literature on the transmission of social science ideas into policy making, contrasting this with a governmentality approach. We then consider the role of UK special advisers, illustrating this empirically by drawing on advisers’ reflections of their role. We conclude by highlighting ambiguity, inconsistency and agency in the takeup and deployment of ideas in policy making.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)485-498
    Number of pages14
    JournalPolicy and Politics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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