How does politics happen? When we do politics, what are we doing? Our research on this theme is led by a theory of action: we are interested in the activist and the administrator as well as the elected representative; in oral, textual and other forms of communication; in the tools and technologies of politics and the spaces in which it gets done. The concept of work helps us to think of politics as purposeful activity: it draws attention to the transformations it makes in people, things and ideas and to the trajectories by which it unfolds. Work is a very ordinary but also very sophisticated kind of action, and it's the 'ordinary sophistication' of political work that we want to explore.
Richard Freeman's research and writing have focused on the practices of policy making, on its core activities of meeting in its various forms and the production and mobilisation of documents. He has recently written about knowledge in policy and the ways it is variously embodied, inscribed and enacted. His inaugural lecture 'Doing politics', offered a framework for thinking about policy and politics in the ways described here.
Darcy Leigh's work is about how we understand political action and agency. She's particularly concerned with how people understand and live out liberal narratives of political agency, as well as how they contest those narratives. Darcy's research looks at how this happens on the ground in and around both neoliberal and radical higher education projects.
The Doing Politics project, led by Richard Freeman and Darcy Leigh, is one of the core activities of this research theme.
Daniel Kenealy's research and writing focuses on the government and governance of the UK. His current interest is in civil servants and how they manage evidence, brief politicians, and shape public policy. This work considers developments here in Scotland but also in Whitehall and in local authorities across the North West of England. Dan is also co-investigator on a project examining constitutional change across the UK, working with colleagues in Social Policy
Oliver Escobar’s work is about citizen participation and public deliberation in a variety of policy areas in Scotland and beyond. His research focusses on people and processes, and the work that it takes to turn participatory and deliberative ideals in to everyday practices. Oliver’s portfolio includes projects on democratic innovations such as citizens’ juries and participatory budgeting, as well as research into the public engagement work carried out by participation practitioners working across the public, private and third sectors.