Visibility and activity: foreign affairs think tanks in the United Kingdom
Guttormsen, David S.A.
University of Manchester
If politics is about transforming ‘reality’, then think tanks are in the business of interpreting politics. However, there is a lack of research dealing with the way think tanks disseminate ideas. Although think tanks are publicly recognised, researchers face a number of difficulties in determining their exact impact on the policy process. As think tanks are mostly concerned with the climate of opinion, we aim to explore the ‘visibility’ and ‘activity’ of a comparable sample of three United Kingdom (UK) foreign policy think tanks, namely Chatham House, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. These are ranked amongst the most influential ‘foreign affairs’ think tanks in the UK. ‘Visibility’ signals the presence of think tanks on the Internet and in the media. ‘Activity’ reflects the understanding of ‘the political’ as outcomes generated by their publications, and networking activities of their members and staff. For this purpose, we combine the usage of digital methods for ‘visibility aspects’, and elite methods for ‘activity aspects’ as a means to explore a possible reconceptualisation of ‘influence’ by encouraging the academic debate to approach this concept beyond the conventional quantitative and/or self-referential inquiry.
peer-reviewed electronic journal publishing postgraduate research in the field of politics
Vol. 7, Issue 1