Panels details > Panel 09

P09- Categories and category-making in public policies

PANEL Organizers :

Yanow Dvora (, Wageningen University (Netherlands)


Many states enumerate their populations' demographic traits through censuses and other means, in order to assess to what degree policies and programs have achieved their intended goals. Such enumeration rests on category-making. States determine the characteristics they wish to tabulate, naming them and thereby the groups assumed to possess them; state-related agencies generate the data; and, typically, a central bureau assembles these, analyzes them, and issues reports (Bowker and Starr 1999, Simon 2005, Yanow 2003). This panel is intended to explore these processes, with three areas of particular interest:

1. The panel departs from the presupposition that these categories' ontological status is as intersubjectively (socially) constructed concepts rather than as objective mirrors of natural phenomena. Actually seeing such social construction processes as they unfold is, however, difficult. Papers are welcome which theorize this problematic on the basis of empirical research.

2. Category theory suggests that categories come in two varieties: “slotting" and “prototyping." In the former, boundaries are clear and fixed; an element clearly fits into its category or not, and “remainders" constitute “category errors" or “mistakes" in the taxonomy. In the latter, “family resemblances" (in a Wittgensteinian sense) are accepted, allowing “outliers" still to be recognized as members of a category (Yanow 2003). Papers might address such category theory questions as, What is the character of categories in policy settings? Do these category types characterize specific kinds of policy issues? Are the two forms related? Are there other forms? What is the role of “category errors" in category-making processes? Is “category-making" different from “classification"?

3. Papers are welcome that present findings from empirical analysis of the use of categories in specific policy issues and/or settings. These might include policies oriented toward such traits as “race, "ethnicity," and “nationality" found, e.g., in immigration policies.


Categories, category-making, race, ethnicity, immigration


Faculty E2.6

SESSION 1 : 8/07/2015 : 13:15-14:45

Chair: Dvora Yanow (, Wageningen University (Netherlands)

Discussant: Dvora Yanow  (, Wageningen University (Netherlands)

The construction of ethnicity in Dutch health research: Situating scientific practice

Alana Helberg-Proctor (, Maastricht University (Netherlands)

Infrastructures of statistical classifications: State statistics, surveillance, and citizens’ rights

Anat Leibler (, Ben Gurion University (Israel)

Questioning category-making in central-local politics: A poststructuralist research agenda

Eleanor Mackillop (, De Montfort University (UK)


SESSION 2 : 8/07/2015 : 15:00-16:30

Chair: Peregrine Schwartz-Shea (, University of Utah (US)

Discussant: Raul P. Lejano (, New York University (US)

The politics of numbers: The birth of new policy categories in The Netherlands

Mark Van Ostaijen ( and Peter Scholten, both at Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

School inclusion for French students with disabilities: Publics and practices

Cristina Popescu (, Institut national supérieur de recherche et de formation pour les jeunes handicapés et les enseignements adaptés (France)


SESSION 3 : 8/07/2015 : 17:00-18:30


Chair : TBD

Discussant (papers): Margit van Wessel (, Wageningen University (Netherlands)


UNESCO and the coining of cultural policy

Gabriela Toledo Silva (, Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brasil)

Biomedical label: Between political discourse and research strategy

Martin Benninghoff (, University of Lausanne (Switzerland)

What have we learned about category-making? General discussion

All presenters and participants in panel 09


SESSION 4 – SHARED SESSION BETWEEN PANEL 09 AND PANEL 56 : 10/07/15 : 09:00-10:30


ROOM  Sciences Po Lille B2.1

Chair: Merlijn van Hulst (, Tilburg University (Netherlands)

Charting Novelty or Inventing Realities? Framing Aporias of Social Innovation Research

Bonno Pel (, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium)

Framing deceptive, covert research practices: The legacy of Milgram, Humphreys, and Zimbardo for ethics regulation of US social science research

Peregrine Schwartz-Shea (, University of Utah (United States)

The construction of vocational higher education quality in Dutch national policies since 1985

Kasja Weenink (, University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)


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