Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy
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Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy

Agile Decision-Making in a Turbulent World

Graham Room

Graham Room argues that conventional approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social and economic change are unsatisfactory. As a result, researchers are ill-equipped to offer policy advice. This book offers a new analytical approach, combining complexity science and institutionalism.
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Chapter 10: Patterns in Time and Space

Graham Room


10.1 INTRODUCTION The concern of this study is with social dynamics. Time therefore matters. In our opening chapter we took stock of several common approaches to the dynamic analysis of social change. The first was the tracking of household circumstances through panel and cohort studies. Panel studies are commonly used in the analysis of changing patterns and risks of poverty. They allow researchers and policy-makers to assess whether households remain in poverty for long or short periods or experience recurrent episodes, never entirely escaping. Such panel studies commonly involve annual updates. Time therefore enters such analyses in a simple sense: how do the circumstances of a given household compare with last year and the year before? In addition, however, the flows of income and expenditure that such enquiries seek to capture – and that then serve to illuminate the dynamics of poverty – are themselves nested in diverse calendars: the weekly expenditure on food, the monthly pay cheque, the fuel bills varying over the different seasons of the year, the capital expenditure on cars and houses. As well as panel studies of this sort, there are analyses of household circumstances based on administrative data relating to the receipt of social benefits. Here again, time enters in a simple sense: are households dependent on benefits short or long term and how do changes in benefit rules change this time profile? However, in making use of such administrative data sets, what also matters is the very way that an ‘episode’ of receipt has been...

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