I confess that with all my curiosity to meet an Altrurian, I was in no hospitable mood toward the traveler when he finally presented himself, pursuant to the letter of advice sent me by the friend who introduced him. It would be easy enough to take care of him in the hotel; I had merely to engage a room for him, and have the clerk tell him his money was not good if he tried to pay for anything. But I had swung fairly into my story; its people were about me all the time; I dwelt amid its events and places, and I did not see how I could welcome my guest among them, or abandon them for him.
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An ethnography of the development and travel of the New Zealand model of neoliberal welfare reform, this study explores the social life of policy, which is one of process, motion, and change. Different actors, including not only policy elites but also providers and recipients, engage with it in light of their own resources and knowledge. Drawing on two analytic frameworks of the contemporary anthropology of policy-translation and assemblage-Kingfisher situates policy as an artifact and architect of cultural meaning, as well as a site of power struggles. All points of engagement with policy are approached as sites of policy production that serve to transform it as well as reproduce it. As such, A Policy Travelogue provides an antidote to theorizations of policy as a-cultural, rational, and straightforwardly technical. Catherine Kingfisher is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Lethbridge. She is editor of Western Welfare in Decline: Globalization and Women's Poverty (2002) and author of Women in the American Welfare Trap (1996). Her research focuses on policy, governance, personhood, gender, and, most recently, happiness and well-being.
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