Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 2022
The aim in this book is to frame a debate on how policy making may be better able to address some of the wicked and squishy problems facing societies. The intention has not simply been to offer an empirical description of how policy making works, though many of the contributions are illuminating in that regard. Rather, the aim is to initiate a conversation driven by theory and informed by practice, about how policy actors can imagine and realise a co-productive alternative to conventional policy design.
The book was conceived as a conversation between theory and practice. It started by generating theoretical tensions, highlighting the limitations of conventional policy design. It then set out some tentative framings of different elements of vision for co-productive policy design and the practices, or ‘grammar’, which may help to realise vision. Specific contexts for these broad theoretical ideas were provided by a series of diverse contributions. Through their grounded efforts to do policy design differently, these contributions offer insightful reflections from policy makers, practitioners, researchers and activists who are actively engaged in this debate.
This chapter reflects on the challenge, creativity and inspiration provided by the contributions to challenge, deepen and develop the theorising of the opening chapters. Challenging, because there remain many lively debates between ideas, stances and tactics advocated by the group which has produced the book. If each of the 12 sets of contributors (made up of 30 individuals) do not necessarily agree with each other, nor do they all entirely accept all aspects of the arguments set out in the opening chapters, or at least some of the nuances of those arguments. As part of the attempt to ‘model’ some of the very ideas we advocate, this chapter reflects on these debates. Deepening, because specific examples in specific contexts reinforce and illuminate the broader theoretical points. Developing, because the contributions prompt amendments, additions and changes in emphasis from the original heuristic. As befits the iterative, incomplete and inclusive ideas advocated, the book is structured so that this chapter critically reappraises the ideas set out at the start. This is a relatively unusual approach to the structure of a book.