The rise and fall of policy ideas

Featuring a series of media clips, this video demonstrates how David Cameron reiterated his support for the idea of “Big Society” over a three year period. The image is overlaid with a graph tracking the frequency of newspaper articles mentioning “Big Society” between 2009 and 2013. The earlier clips relay a grander vision: “strong and concerted government effort”, “legacy” designs to “mend the broken society”. They capture what Kingdon calls the “take-off point” of ideas. By November 2011 Cameron continues to outline his “big idea.” It is during this time that the newspaper mentions peak, from 33 in 2009 to 2,293 in 2011. But from 2012 onwards the focus narrows, becoming a brand for a specific initiative: Big Society Capital. So although the language remains upbeat, what is meant by “Big ”Society changes. In part this can be quantified (as the graph shows with a drop to 1,377 mentions in 2012 and 401 mentions in 2013). But the video is also arguing that we can do more: we can go beyond counting frequencies, to explore alternative sources of data, and focus on the accumulation of new meaning over time.

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Hashtag Politics describes the practice of coining and fostering unique branded policy ideas in an era of social media. “Interpreting Hashtag Politics” explores the opportunity of monitoring, visualising, capturing and sifting social media data to understand the lifecycles of these policy ideas: their rise, and, ultimately, their fall.


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