Document Type: Commentary
Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
Health policy has been termed a ‘chameleon concept’, referring to its ability to take on different forms of disciplinarity as well as different roles and functions. This paper extends Paton’s analysis by exploring the paradox of health policy as a field of academic inquiry—sitting across many of the boundaries of social science but also marginalised by them. It situates contemporary approaches within disciplinary traditions, explaining its inter- and multi-disciplinary character. It also presents a ‘way of seeing’ health policy in terms of three axes: central/local, profession/management, and health/healthcare. The paper concludes with a call for a new research agenda which recognises health policy’s pedigree but also one which carves a distinctive future of relevance and rigour.