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Category-making and Public Policy

Workshop Number
15
Workshop Director
Veronique Mottier
University of Cambridge
Workshop Co-Director
Marleen Van Der Haar
AMSTERDAM, Vrije Universiteit

Abstract
Public policy-making involves categorization. State-defined categories and policy labels such as the unemployed, disabled, ‘poor’, elderly, tax-payers, youth at risk, (im)migrants, ‘aliens’ or refugees, ‘African-Americans’ or ‘Moroccan-French’ define individuals’ entitlement to or exclusion from welfare provisions, unemployment benefits, voting rights, or rights of residence. Category-making and labeling are also central to the definition of an issue as a policy problem, and a classic research topic in key areas of political science such as public policy, public administration, interpretive policy analysis, political discourse analysis, political theory, IR, and gender and politics. This workshop will seek to explore the political implications and consequences of categorization by the state and other political actors, and examine how public policy categorization relates to processes of identity construction, political inclusion and exclusion.

We will solicit papers drawing from the broad range of interpretive methods used within political research, including discourse/textual/narrative analysis, frame analysis, semiotics, metaphor analysis, ethnographic research, historical analysis, etc. The workshop particularly welcomes two types of contributions: (1) substantive papers that explore particular examples of categorization and labeling in policy or political arenas and (2) methodological papers which use the analysis of categorisation practices as a basis for raising methodological questions.

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"Politics determines the process of "who gets what, when, and how"" - Harold Lasswell


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