No hiding place: on the discomforts of researching the contemporary policy process

J Soc Policy. 1990 Apr;19(2):169-90. doi: 10.1017/s0047279400001987.


It has never been easy to conduct research into currently sensitive policy issues, but there is now accumulating evidence to indicate that various forms of resistance to scholarly investigation are on the increase. Such a climate handicaps all social policy research, but may have the greatest impact on ethnographic projects. Yet, it is argued, ethnography is increasingly widely recognised among academics as having a particularly valuable contribution to make to the study of the policy process. Unfortunately, many policy practitioners (and occasionally some academic colleagues) perceive ethnographic research as being of questionable validity and low helpfulness. This behaves policy-oriented ethnographers to demonstrate that they do indeed have procedures for assuring validity, even if their style of investigation is never likely to be popular with government.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethnology*
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Policy Making
  • State Medicine*
  • United Kingdom