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Peopling policy processes? Methodological populism in the Bangladesh health and education sectors

Lewis, David ORCID: 0000-0003-0732-9020 (2018) Peopling policy processes? Methodological populism in the Bangladesh health and education sectors. World Development, 108. 16 - 27. ISSN 0305-750X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.03.012


Policy makers are frequently characterized as being out of touch with the communities they serve. But closing the “gap” between policy makers and people is not straightforward, since distancing effects are produced by a combination of geography, politics and knowledge. This article analyses the case of an experimental initiative in Bangladesh known as the “reality check” that attempted to influence policy makers in the health and education sectors by providing them with people-centered data gathered at community level. The case is analyzed as an example of “methodological populism” that combined participatory and ethnographic approaches, and as one that challenged current managerialist cultures of what can be considered as acceptable evidence for policy. The case highlights tensions between participation, populism and policy that are potentially productive but constrained by three sets of factors: (i) contestations over the status of “popular knowledge”, (ii) the need for critical “policy spaces” within policy processes in which policy makers can engage with such knowledge, and (iii) the “disruptive temporalities” within policy processes that tend to inhibit learning. Drawing on the “guarded hopefulness” of meta-modernist theory, the paper concludes that if more attention can be paid to such issues, initiatives informed by methodological populism such as the reality check could be further built upon in ways that may contribute to the humanization or “peopling” of policy processes.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
L Education > L Education (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2018 16:52
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:12

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