Producing Knowledge, Producing Credibility: British Think-Tank Researchers and the Construction of Policy Reports

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Abstract

Think-tanks and their researchers are located within an interstitial and ill-defined ‘space between fields’; a space both constituted and divided by the worlds of academia, politics, journalism and business. This liminal position can be problematic for a think-tank researcher’s intellectual credibility as they lack the recognised cultural and symbolic capital derived from being located within an established profession’s jurisdiction. The question arises, how do think-tanks gain intellectual credibility? Drawing on interviews with think-tank researchers, this paper explores how these interstitial intellectuals produce policy reports. In following this process, we find that credibility emerges from a complex web of relationships across established fields/professions. Think-tank researchers must engage in a complex ‘dance’ of positioning the symbols, capitals and interests of a number of professions. To maintain their integrity, researchers must try to keep in step with competing interests from different professions; at times aligning them, at other times blocking or obscuring them from one another.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-178
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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