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Enlivening evidence-based policy through embodiment and emotions

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posted on 2015-06-25, 12:42 authored by Irene Hardill, Sarah MillsSarah Mills
Evidence-based policy and practice tends to operate on a belief that knowledge is obtained through objective observation and reasoning, leading to 'rational decision-making'. But the work of producing such knowledge is typically more 'messy', more iterative and more non-linear; features of the knowledge production process only made more pronounced by imperatives such as co-production. Just over a decade ago Smith and Anderson traced out a position countervailing to that of the predominant - yet, at that stage, only tentative - 'policy (re)turn' in human geography and set about charting a new course of research, variously promoting and encouraging a more enthusiastic laying bare of the researcher's positionalities and emotional sensitivities. In this paper we wish to briefly reassess the 'emotional turn', via a case study centring on the New Dynamics of Ageing (NDA) research programme to highlight the challenges of translating emotions into a policy making environment. In our project we examined the ways in which the materialities of ICT (and new technology more broadly) are embedded in everyday life. How people feel, their emotional sensitivities, towards the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) we argue is crucial for understanding the potential impact of the current public policy thrust to move to the online delivery of public services (or egovernment). Adding emotional sensitivities in the body of knowledge when in dialogue with policy makers we suggest enriches evidence based policy that centres on behaviour change. © 2013 Academy of Social Sciences.


This paper draws on research funded by the New Dynamics of Ageing programme, Sustaining IT use by older people to promote autonomy and independence (Sus-IT) lead by Leela Damodaran and Wendy Olphert (RES-353-25-0008).



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Contemporary Social Science






321 - 332


HARDILL, I. and MILLS, S., 2013. Enlivening evidence-based policy through embodiment and emotions. Contemporary Social Science, 8 (3), pp. 321 - 332.


Taylor and Francis / © Academy of Social Sciences


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Contemporary Social Science on 17th April 2013, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/21582041.2013.770909






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