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Professor Janet Newman

Profile summary

Professional biography

Janet Newman was appointed as Professor of Social Policy in 2002 until her retirement in 2010. Before comng to the OU she worked at the universities of Aston, Coventry and Birmingham, after a long career in local government. 

Now retired, she continues to collaborate on research programmes and publications, as well as supporting community based organisations. 

Research interests

My recent research has traced what happens at the interface between activist movements and changing governance regimes. I highlight the ways in which progressive movements generated new imaginaries of the state (Newman 2020; Cooper, Dhawan and Newman 2020) showing the potentiality of prefigurative politics and exploring questions of contradiction and ambivalence. Similar concerns underpinned my collaboration with the University of Bristol on coproduction and regulation (McDermont et al 2019). I am currently exploring the potential of the COVID-19 pandemic to generate new spaces of possibility and action (paper to the Interpretive Policy Association, June 2021). 

Such work draws on an earlier study of how four generations of women had brought feminist politics to their work in the state, local government, higher education and community politics (Working the spaces of power: activism, neoliberalism and gendered labour Newman 2012, and subsequent journal outputs in Social Politics, Critical Policy Studies and Local Economy

Transformations in politics and power associated with Brexit in the UK and the wider turns to populism and authoritarianism inform my collaborative work with John Clarke (Clarke and Newman 2018, Newman and Clarke 2017). Earlier studies include the emergence of new democratic and participatory forms (Barnes, Newman and Sullivan, XX) and the rise of the ‘Citizen Consumer’ Clarke et al 2006). They offer analyses of the managerial reforms of the 1990s (Clarke and Newman, 1997), the politics and policies of New Labour (Newman, 2001), and changing configurations of power associated with the 'modernisation' of European welfare states (Newman, 2005, Newman and Tonkens, 2011). I have worked on the financial crisis of 2008/9 (Journal of Education Policy, 2010) on austerity politics (Critical Social Policy, 2012); on local government and neoliberalism (in Policy and Politics, 2011 and Urban StudieXXs); and enactments of governing under austerity (Policy and Politics, 2013).

A particular focus is on changing discourses and practices of publics and publicness. This draws on experience working with public managers and others at the policy/practice interface. It seeks to develop forms of analysis that go beyond both the neo-liberal narrative of decline of the public sphere and its social democratic alternative (2005 Inaugural Lecture; ESRC Seminar Series on Emergent Publics. Publications here include Publics, Politics and Power: changing the public in public services (with J. Clarke: Sage 2009);  Rethinking the Public: innovations in research, theory and politics (with N. Mahony and C. Barnett: Policy Press 2010); and 'Public Leadership as publicmaking', Public Money and Management 2011).

Recent publications include: 

'Living with Ambivalence: Bureaucracy, Anti-Statism and 'Progressive' Politics', New Formations 100, September 2000.

Reimagining the State: theoretical challenges and political possibilities, ed D.Cooper, N.Dhawan and J. Newman. Routledge 2020.

Imagining Regulation Differently ;co-creating regulation for engagement,ed. M.Mcdermont, T.Cole, J.Newman and A. Piccini. Policy Press 2019.

Clarke, J and Newman, J (2018)‘What’s the subject? Brexiteers. Remainers and political identifications’,Journal of Community and Applied Psychology vol 31, issue 1.

Newman, J. and Clarke, J. (2017) ‘The instabilities of expertise: remaking knowledge, power and politics in unsettled times’, Innovation; The European Journal of Social Science Research31, 1:40-54

Past publications


2012 Working the Spaces of Power: activism, neoliberalism and gendered labour. Bloomsbury Academic.

2011 Participation, Responsibility and Choice: summoning the active citizen in western Europe (with E.Tonkens, ed). Amsterdam University Press.

2010 Rethinking the Public: innovations in research, theory and policy (with Nick Mahony and Clive Barnett, eds). Bristol, Policy Press.

2009 Publics, Politics and Power: changing the public of public services (with John Clarke) London, Sage.

2008 Social Justice: Welfare, Crime and Society (with N.Yeates, eds). Buckingham, Open University Press.

2007 Power, participation and political renewal: case studies in public participation (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan). Bristol, Policy Press.

2007 Creating Citizen-Consumers: changing relationships and identifications (with J.Clarke and L.Westmarland). London, Sage.

2005 Remaking Governance: Peoples, Politics and the Public Sphere. Bristol, Policy Press.

2001 Modernising Governance: New Labour, Policy and Society. London, Sage.

1997 The Managerial State; power, politics and ideology in the remaking of social welfare (with J. Clarke). London, Sage.

1996 Shaping organisational cultures in local government. London, Pearson.

1995 Gender, culture and organisational change (with C. Itzin). London, Routledge.


(for full details see The Open University's Open Research Online

Newman, J (2013) 'Landscapes of Antagonism: local governance, neoliberalism and austerity'. Urban Studies.

Newman, J (2013) 'Spaces of Power: activism, neoliberalism and gendered labour'. Social Politics, May.

Newman, J (2013) 'Governing the present: activism, neoliberalism and the problem of power and consent', Critical Policy Studies 148, forthcoming.

'Performig New Worlds: Policy, politics and creative labour in hard times'. Invited paper to 40th anniversary issue of Policy and Politics.

'Back to the future? local governance, neoliberalism and austerity'. Accepted for publication in Urban Studies.

'Beyond the deliberative subject? Problems of theory, method and critique in the turn to emotion and affect', Critical Policy Studies, 2013, in press.

2012 'Making, contesting and governing the local: Women's labour and the local state'. Local Economy, August. doi: 10.1177/0269094212455300

2012 'The Alchemy of Austerity' (with john Clarke) Critical Social Policy. 32, 3: 299-319.

2011 'Public Leadership as Public-making', Public Money and Management 31, 5: 315-322.

2011 'Boundary Troubles: working the academic-policy interface', Policy and Politics, 39, 4, October: 473-484.

2011 'Debate: neoliberalism and local governance: global contrasts and research priorities', Policy and Politics 39, 3: 445-6.

2011 'The politics of publicness', in J.Pykett, ed, 'Interventions in the `geography of Libertarian Paternalism' Political Geography, published online 15 June 2011.

2011 'Managing in disorderly times', (with M, Noordegraaf) Public Management Review, 13, 4: 513-538.

2010 'Towards a pedagogical state? Summoning the 'empowered' citizen' Citizenship Studies, vol 14, 6: 711-723.

2010 Summoning spectres: crises and their construction (with John Clarke). Journal of Education Policy, 25, 6: 709–715.

2008 'The antagonisms of choice: New Labour and the reform of public services' (with John Clarke). Social Policy and Society, 7, 2: 243-254.

2008 'Remaking the citizen in public services: trajectories and tensions' (with John Clarke). Politica, 40 (3): 334-348.

2008 'Beyond Modernisation: social care and the transformation of welfare governance' (with C. Glendinning and M.Hughes) Journal of Social Policy 37, 4.

2007 'Rethinking the public in troubled times: unsettling nation, state and the liberal public sphere' Public Policy and Administration, 22 (1) 55-75

2007 'What's in a name? New labour's citizen consumers and the remaking of public services'. Cultural Studies 21, 4-5: 738-757

2007 'Democracy and the public realm: towards a progressive agenda?' (with N.Mahony), Soundings 36: 56-66.

2007 'Consumers enter the political stage: the modernisation of health care in Britain and Germany' (with E.Kuhlmann) Journal of European Social Policy 17: 99-111

2006 'Discursive arenas: deliberation and the constitution of identity in participation at local level' (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan) Social Movement Studies 5, 3: 193-207.

2006 'More than a matter of choice? Consumerism and the modernisation of health care' (with E.Vidler) Social Policy Review 18

2006 'A Politics of 'The Public', Soundings 32: 162-176

2006 'Modernisation and the Dynamics of Governance' Zeitschrift fur Sozialreform [Journal of Social Policy Research], 52: 2, Mai

2006 'Discriminating consumers, responsible patients, empowered users' (with E.Vidler) Journal of Social Policy 35, 2: 193-209

2005 'Regendering Governance: perspectives on 'the social' in social policy', Zeitschrift fur Sozialreform [Journal of Social Policy Research], 51/2,221-240

2005 'Constructing accountability: network governance and managerial agency', Public Policy and Administration. 19, 4: 17-33

2005 'Network governance, transformational leadership and the micro politics of public service change'. Sociology, 39, 4: 717-734

2005 'Beyond the New Public Management? Public services and the social investment state', Policy and Politics, 33,4: 657-74 (with B.McKee)

2004 'Central-local relations in an era of multi-level governance: the case of public participation policy in England' (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan) Local Government Studies 30, 2: 245-265

2004 'Power, participation and political renewal; theoretical and empirical perspectives on public participation under New Labour' (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan) Social Politics, 11 (2): 267-279

2004 'Public participation and collaborative governance' (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan) Journal of Social Policy, 33 (2): 203-223

2004 'The micro-politics of deliberation: case studies in public participation' (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan) Contemporary Politics, 10 (2) 93-110

2003 'Transforming the probation service: the 'what works' agenda, organisational change and professional identity' (with S. Nutley). Policy and Politics, 31 (4): 547-63.

2003 'Constituting 'the public' in public participation initiatives' (with M.Barnes and H.Sullivan) Public Administration. 81 (2):.275-295

2002 'Changing governance, changing equality? New Labour and the modernisation of public services'. Public Money and Management 22 (1): 7-14.

2002 'What counts is What Works? Constructing evaluations of market mechanisms'. Public Administration 79 (1): 89-104.

Selected book chapters

2013 'But we didn't mean that': feminist projects, governmental appropriations and spaces of politics, in Roseneil, S ed Beyond Citizenship? Feminism and the transformation of belonging. Palgrave.

2011 'Serving the public? Users, consumer and the limits of NPM', in Christensen, T. and Laegreid, P. eds, The Ashgate Research Companion to the New Public Management. Farnham, Ashgate: 349-360.

2010 'Delivering Choice and Administering Justice: Contested Logics of Public Service' (with John Clarke and Morag McDermont) in M. Adler (ed) Administrative Justice in Context. Oxford: Hart Publishing: 25-46. 2010.

2010 'Narrating subversion: assembling citizenship' (with John Clarke). In M.Barnes and D.Prior, eds, Subversive Citizens: agency and resistance in public policy. Policy Press: 67-

2009 'Elusive Publics' knowledge, power and public service reform', in Gewirtz, S et al Changing Teacher Professionalism. Routledge, 2009:43-53

2009 'Re-evaluating knowledge, reframing problems: what works and the modernisation of adult social care', in H-U. Otto, A Polutta and H.Ziegler, eds, Evidence Based Practice: modernising the knowledge base of social work. Barbara Budrich, 61-76.

2009 'Can we decide together? Public participation and collaborative governance', in C.Leggewie and C.Sachesse, eds, Soziale Demokratie, Zivilgesellschaft und Burgertugenden. Frankfurt, Campus. 2008: 251-262.

2008 'Reluctant subjects: citizens, consumers and the reform of public services' (with John Clarke) in H.K.Hansen and D.Salskov-Iversen, eds, Critical perspectives on private authority in global politics. Palgrave-Macmillan, 110-127.

2007 'Governance as cultural practice: texts, talk and the struggle for meaning', in M.Bevir and F.Trentmann, eds, Governance, Consumers and Citizens: agency and resistance in contemporary politics. Palgrave Macmillan 49-68

2004 'Modernising the state: a new style of governance?' in J. Lewis and R. Surrender, eds, Welfare State Change:Towards a Third Way? Oxford University Pres 2004: 69-88.

2004 'Bending bureaucracy: leadership and multi-level governance', in P. du Gay, ed, The Values of Bureacracy. Oxford University Press, 2004: 191-210.

2004 'Governing the modern world' (with J. Clarke) in D.Steinberg and R.Johnson, eds, Blairism and the War of Persuasion: Labour's Passive Revolution. Lawrence and Wishart 2004: 53-65.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

I have contributed to the making of several Open University courses, including Welfare, Crime and Society (DD208), Crime and Justice (DD301) and Personal Lives and Social Policy (DD305).

I also taught on international summer schools and programmes for public managers (MBA and MPA programmes) and on doctoral programmes on governance and public policy.