Exploring the role of the state in the depoliticisation of UK transport policy

Louise Reardon, Greg Marsden

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This paper responds to calls for greater empirical investigation of the interrelationships between depoliticisation and repoliticisation processes. It does so by applying the ‘three faces’ (governmental, societal and discursive) organising perspective to a longitudinal analysis of transport policy in the UK. This case is important because acceptance of the current dominant policy solution – infrastructure spending – appears to have come full circle over a 30-year period. The research finds that today’s focus on infrastructure is enabled through intersecting and reinforcing depoliticisation processes, supporting the ‘three faces’ perspective. However, the paper also highlights the need for greater recognition of the state as a meta-governor of depoliticisation and the need for clarity on which aspect of a policy solution or problem (or the connections between them) is being depoliticised and repoliticised to better elucidate politicisation processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Pages (from-to)223-240
Number of pages8
JournalPolicy and politics
Issue number2
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2020


  • Depoliticisation
  • Governance
  • Meta-governance
  • Policy solutions
  • Repoliticisation
  • State
  • Transport policy


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