Chameleonic Ideas and Flexian Policy Actors

  • Katherine Smith
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policy book series (SKP)


The previous two chapters have outlined two distinct ways in which actors can try to use research to influence public health policy: those trying to work within existing policy frameworks (facilitators) and those actively trying to promote broader, societal and policy change (advocates). Many of the public health academics I interviewed could be categorised within one or the other of these categories. However, some were trying to perform both roles simultaneously. The relatively high degree of consensus between academic, third-sector and policy-based interviewees around tobacco control seemed to have contributed to a context in which combining such roles appeared to be relatively easy for tobacco-focused researchers. However, the data indicate that health inequalities researchers often struggled to balance their scientific credibility with their moral/political convictions and the demands of policy and other audiences. Civil servants similarly described finding it difficult to juggle their own assessments of the available evidence on health inequalities with their perceptions of the professional parameters guiding their work. This chapter focuses on how such interviewees described working to adapt and translate ideas in different ways for different audiences. For example, some interviewees recounted having deliberately constructed ideas in ways which were likely to increase their appeal to a variety of audiences.


European Union Civil Servant Health Inequality Regulatory Reform Tobacco Company 
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Copyright information

© Katherine Smith 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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