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Campbell, John R (2020) 'Accessing Information versus Analysing Policy: Using the FOI Act in the United Kingdom.' In: Walby, Kevin and Luscombe, Andrew, (eds.), Freedom of Information and Social Science Research Design. New York: Routledge. (Forthcoming)

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Abstract

In this chapter I address problems confronted by researchers who attempt to exercise their right to request information under the United Kingdom’s Freedom of Information Act (2000), namely the struggle to obtain information from obstructive government departments coupled with the difficulty of using the information that governments care to disclose. I examine two cases which, in different ways, illustrate the nature of these problems. The first case arises out of my research into the policy of ‘language analysis’ used by the UK Home Office; this policy adopts the language of rationality and science as a way of masking political decisions to refuse protection to asylum applicants. The second case examines an attempt to use the FOI Act to force the UK government to disclose information about secret meetings between the Home Office and the government of Eritrea. Following the work of Wedel et al (2005) I attempt to see through/unmask the policy claims of the British Home Office, a powerful bureaucracy, to understand what officials actually do. Both cases illustrate how institutions withhold, block, stymie and deny access to information about their activities and what research is capable of revealing about their actions and the impact of government policy.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: FOIA, policy analysis, Language Analysis, power
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
ISBN: 9780429437717
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429437717
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2019 09:41
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/31316
Related URLs: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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