Thinking about think tanks in health care: A call for a new research agenda
Little sociological attention has been given to the role of think tanks in health policy and planning. Existing work in political science and public administration tends to define and categorise think tanks and situate them as a disinterested source of policy expertise. Despite the increasingly visible presence of think tanks in the world of health care, such work has done little to reveal how they operate, by whom and to what ends. Our article seeks to redress this firstly by examining why they have remained relatively hidden in academic analyses and secondly by advocating an interpretive approach that incorporates think tanks within the wider landscape of health policy and planning. In contrast to most existing literature, an interpretive approach acknowledges that much of the messy business of healthcare policy and planning remains hidden from view and that much can be gleaned by examining the range of organisations, actors, coalitions, everyday activities, artefacts and interactions that make up the think tank stage and that work together to shape health policy and planning. Given the paucity of research in this area, we urge the medical sociology community to open the field to further academic scrutiny. © 2013 Foundation for the Sociology of Health & Illness/John Wiley & Sons Ltd.