What (else) matters? Policy contexts, emotional geographies

John Horton, Peter Kraftl

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we reflect upon a particular, policy-oriented evaluation of a Sure Start Centre: a small element of a UK government programme addressing children’s well-being in ‘deprived’ neighbourhoods. Specifically, and contra some chief social-scientific accounts, we seek to acknowledge how ‘policy’ and ‘emotion’ were inseparable in this project. We suggest that policy and media discourses, and much extant research, regarding Sure Start have been characterised by a particular apprehension of what matters, which constitutes a particular assumption about how policy interventions, in ‘deprived’ neighbourhoods and elsewhere, should be evaluated. In marked contrast we propound qualitative data wherein users of the Sure Start Centre articulated how this facility mattered to them. Our aim is not simply to reiterate a twofold truism: policy is always emotional; emotions are latently political. Rather, we consider how, in the wake of this truism, more combinative, open-minded encounters between bodies of social-scientific endeavours conventionally labelled ‘policy relevant’ vis-à-vis ‘theoretical’ might yield more careful apprehensions of the emotion and affect in policy, and the politics of emotions and affects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to) 2984-3002
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Policy
  • Sure Start
  • emotion


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