Special advisers and the transmission of ideas from the policy primeval soup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the work of ministerial special advisers who play a key but underresearched role in transmitting policy ideas in government. We argue that this focus is necessary to challenge the reification of neoliberalism as an explanatory determinant of policy making. Initially we discuss the literature on the transmission of social science ideas into policy making, contrasting this with a governmentality approach. We then consider the role of UK special advisers, illustrating this empirically by drawing on advisers' reflections of their role. We conclude by highlighting ambiguity, inconsistency and agency in the takeup and deployment of ideas in policy making. © The Policy Press,2011.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-498
Number of pages13
JournalPolicy & Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011