Panels details > Panel 65

P65- Why does policy ambiguity matter?

PANEL Organizers:

Ravinet Pauline (, Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches Administratives, Politiques et Sociales (France)


The discursive turn has brought out discourse and ideas as key variables to understand policy. Part of this approach of course deals with consistency, when researching the role of specified and coherent policy ideational matrixes. But this turn is as much about ambiguity than about consistency.
The notion of policy ambiguity certainly deserves more attention and conceptualization. It is a fascinating object in itself, and also for a fruitful dialogue within the discipline {or with other disciplines such as linguistic or political theory. This panel invites contributions focusing on policy ambiguity in all sectors, levels, or institutional contexts, around two main lines of questioning:

Patterns of ambiguity:
What does ambiguity really mean? Are all ambiguous discourse and ideas really similar? What are the diverse semantic and linguistic mechanisms behind ambiguity? How can we categorize the discursive patterns that we label as ambiguity? Broad and imprecise statements are for instance often characterized as ambiguous. But on the contrary, extremely precise technical issues may as well be considered ambiguous -in the sense that they remain allusive about the objective they serve-. Other policy discourses are considered ambiguous because they are enunciated in a way that they cannot be contradicted. etc.

Ambiguity as logic of action:
How do actors make, understand, use, or resist to policy ambiguity? How do they deal with ambiguity in their strategies and daily practices? As often highlighted in research on formulation of European policies for instance, ambiguity can be a purposeful strategy (or even a policy-making culture) to favor agreement between actors with diverging interest and values. The multiple ways actors make usage of policy ambiguity at the implementation stage is equally a fascinating question. Another perspective would rather consider that policy ambiguity transcends actors' purposeful strategies, and is rather a constitutive feature of contemporary policy institutions. etc..


Ambiguity, discourse, ideas.


Sciences Po Lille  B2.3

SESSION 1 : 10/07/2015 : 09:00-10:30

Chair: Pauline Ravinet (, University Lille 2 (France)

Discussant: tbc

'Bring yourself to work': The politics of authenticity and the pragmatics of ambiguity in `personalised' English social work

Emily Whitaker (, Cardiff University (United Kingdom)

• Interpreting institutional ambiguity in urban densication•Interpreting institutional ambiguity in urban densication

Helena Leino (, University of Tampere (Finland), Markus Laine, University of Tampere (Finland),) and Minna Santaoja, University of Tampere (Finland).

Making the most of policy ambiguity: an interpretive study of English mental health policy

Newbigging Karen (, University of Birmingham (United Kingdom)

The cohabitation of opposite policy paradigms: the case of GMOs in Ghana

Elisa Vecchione (, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine(United Kingdom) and Namrata Verma, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine(United Kingdom)

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