Research, Policy and Politics: Connections, Collusions and Collisions

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Martin Doornbos


It hardly needs elucidating that the interrelations between social research and politics, including the domain of policy-making, are numerous and manifold. Their connections and the ways these are handled are highly varied in several respects, ranging from instances where the respective fields are complementary and geared towards common objectives, via experiences with significantly contrasted premises and understandings breeding abundant confusion, to other contexts marked by profound suspicions, hostility and conflict between vastly different worlds and outlooks. In the light of the diversity of roles, issues and agendas involved, it is interesting to look more closely at some of the areas of interface between social research and politics/policy. This article presents a preliminary overview of different kinds of interactions between the fields of research and policy, followed by a closer look at several sources of tension between the outlooks and expectations from a policy perspective and those from research and researchers’ perspectives. The focus is especially on the respective manifestations as they occur in the field of development studies.

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