A Social, Not a Natural Science: Engaging With Broader Fields in Health Policy Analysis; Comment on “Modelling the Health Policy Process: One Size Fits All or Horses for Courses?”

Document Type : Commentary


Department of Health Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK


Powell and Mannion’s recent editorial discusses how different ‘models’ of the policy process have been applied within the health policy field. They present two ways forward for scholarship: more ‘home grown’ development of health-specific models, or deeper engagement with broader public policy scholarship. In this paper I argue for the latter approach for several reasons. First, health policy analysis is a social, not a natural science – and as such is not exceptional to other forms of policy scholarship. Second, many ‘health policy models’ are often grounded in conceptual work from elsewhere (or may not be health specific). Finally, there has been significant work to develop more nuanced understandings of theories, models, and frameworks available to particular analytical tasks and questions. As such, the growing body of global health policy scholarship may find it can benefit more from deeper engagement with existing conceptual work than constructing its own new models in most cases.


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