Policies as translation: situating transnational social policies

Noémi Lendvai and Paul Stubbs

in Policy reconsidered

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9781861349132
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302995 | DOI:
Policies as translation: situating transnational social policies

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This chapter investigates some of the implications of developing an anthropology or ethnography of the transnational dimensions of policy (dimensions of policy which comprises levels beyond the individual nation state). It adheres to ethnographic accounts of policy change processes which highlight policy mediation, dialogue, translation, compromise, and resistance. It focuses on social policy in terms of its ‘displacements’ or ‘deep uncertainties’ of what is taken for granted and situates this in the context of a new internationalisation in which nation states compare their social policies within those of other countries and in which notions of ‘European social policy’ and of ‘global social policy’ suggest reform models and benchmarks which are beyond those of the nation state. The chapter begins by outlining the basic conceptual apparatus in terms of policy as meaning-making. It then examines policy as translation and investigates the implications in terms of transnationalisation of policy. In particular, the second section aims to compare policy translation with the more conventional notions of policy transfer. The third section examines policy translation within the parameters of reflexive ethnographic approach. The last section provides conclusions and some brief notes on some theoretical and ethical objections that can and should be raised.

Keywords: policy change; social policy; internationalisation; meaning-making; translation; transnationalisation; policy translation; policy transfer; reflexive ethnographic approach

Chapter.  6680 words. 

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