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Research as Usual: How Researching Public Problems Affects Problem Solving


  • Koen Bartels

    () (Bangor University)


While Western welfare systems work fine for the majority of people, they have become part of the problem for those who need it the most: people suffering from multiple deprivation. The partnerships Western governments have set up to join up the fragmented welfare system often break down. While research has identified many barriers and solutions, this knowledge does not necessarily help public officials and citizens implicated in the everyday practice of making quick decisions about complicated, ethically challenging, and constantly changing situations while interacting with each other. Besides the rare case of action research in policy analysis, researchers are usually placed outside of these interactive processes. This paper develops an actionable approach to examining how everyday practices of researching public problems emerge from the push and pull between two co-existing and incompatible systems of “research as usual”: one in which researchers and local governance actors collaborate as everyday practice, and one in which their worlds are separated by institutional pressures, languages, and practices. Ethnographic and action research methods will be used to work with public officials and citizens to facilitate processes of joint inquiry or “researching”: activities aimed at understanding the world and interpreting the effects of efforts to change it. Researching problems of multiple deprivation together could generate new solutions and collaborative relationships for harnessing multiple deprivation.

Suggested Citation

  • Koen Bartels, 2013. "Research as Usual: How Researching Public Problems Affects Problem Solving," Working Papers 13002, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
  • Handle: RePEc:bng:wpaper:13002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hessels, Laurens K. & van Lente, Harro, 2008. "Re-thinking new knowledge production: A literature review and a research agenda," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 740-760, May.
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    4. Editors, 2003. "Editor's Introduction," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 645-648, October.
    5. Barbara C Crosby & John M Bryson, 2005. "A leadership framework for cross-sector collaboration," Public Management Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 177-201, June.
    6. Hal Colebatch, 2006. "What work makes policy?," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 39(4), pages 309-321, December.
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