Policy Research in an Evidence-Averse Environment

Sandra Braman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

It has been a characteristic of the modern state ever since the French Revolution to favor evidence-based policymaking. Indeed, the word “statistics” refers to the interplay between the development of research methods and the uses of those methods by governments. But the nature of the state, and of knowledge production, and of state-society relations, have all continued to evolve. Unfortunately – but hopefully not necessarily – the current expression of the informational state (Braman, 2006) in the United States is evidence-averse policymaking. Recent inversions of the legal system have brought about a loss of innocence regarding the relationship between policymaking and the facts and about the relative efficacy of governmental processes as described by their formal outlines. It is now clear that those who hope that the results of their research will be used to influence the conditions of our lives must deal not only with government (the formal laws, decision-making processes, organizations, and programs of geopolitically recognized governments), but also with governance (the formal and informal rules, practices, decision-making procedures, and institutions of private and public actors that have structural effects) and governmentality (the cultural habits and predispositions out of which modes of governance and government arise, and by which they are sustained). (…)

The full essay online:

IJoC – International Journal of Communication 2 (2008)

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