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A Policy Travelogue
Tracing Welfare Reform in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Canada
230 pages, 2 tables, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78238-005-4 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (September 2013)
ISBN 978-1-78533-221-0 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (February 2016)
eISBN 978-1-78238-006-1 eBook
“Kingfisher’s book is a theoretically productive account of how welfare reform policies develop and travel…from the world of policy elites to the daily lives of poor single mothers… An important strength of Kingfisher’s book is the range of data she uses from locations that are less discussed in the literature on policy and especially in the literature on welfare reform.” · PoLAR
“Despite the empirical challenges evident in research that focuses on welfare policy in two different locations and on different levels of policy, Kingfisher skillfully composes her results into a coherent narrative [...] I'd recommend the book especially as course material, since it opens up possibilities for analyzing the phenomenon we call the welfare state from a different point of view than just that of welfare state models and large-scale political shifts." · Sosiologia
“[Kingfisher’s] work is distinctive in taking policy from the minister to the client and service user. That is an achievement in itself, but to have done it in parallel studies of two countries is remarkable.” · Richard Freeman, University of Edinburgh
“This is a groundbreaking book…that represents a sophisticated assemblage of ideas to frame and drive the analysis of data gleaned through long-term engagement with each site…Using the well-delineated concepts of travel, assemblage, and translation, [Kingfisher] explains the contradictory ways in which policy discourse is produced and through which traveling ideas ‘touch down’ in varied places and times and are selectively taken up by people in varied systems of social relations and grounded experiences.” · Judith Goode, Temple University
An ethnography of the development and travel of the New Zealand model of neoliberal welfare reform, this study explores the social life of policy, which is one of process, motion, and change. Different actors, including not only policy élites but also providers and recipients, engage with it in light of their own resources and knowledge. Drawing on two analytic frameworks of the contemporary anthropology of policy—translation and assemblage—Kingfisher situates policy as an artifact and architect of cultural meaning, as well as a site of power struggles. All points of engagement with policy are approached as sites of policy production that serve to transform it as well as reproduce it. As such, A Policy Travelogue provides an antidote to theorizations of policy as a-cultural, rational, and straightforwardly technical.
Catherine Kingfisher is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Lethbridge. She is editor of Western Welfare in Decline: Globalization and Women’s Poverty (2002) and author of Women in the American Welfare Trap (1996). Her research focuses on policy, governance, personhood, gender, and, most recently, happiness and well-being.
Subject: Anthropology (General) Sociology
Area: Asia-Pacific North America
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