When we think of policy as mobile, what is it we think is moving? Asking after the mobility of policy is important not least for the ontological questions it raises: what is policy such that it moves? Ordinarily, we might think of policy as existing in time and space while, given certain conditions, some policies move from one time and/or space to another. This paper, by contrast, begins by describing policy as resulting from movement, setting out a model or heuristic which takes its mobility as prior to its existence. For policy is made in communicative interaction, both oral (in meetings) and textual (in documents). We might think of it in wave form, which helps to explain both its mobility and its mutability. The paper illustrates this conception in a study of WHO activity in respect of mental health in Europe, exploring aspects of translation – understood as the generation of messages in interaction – and of iteration, as those messages are reformulated and repeated in different contexts. The policy concept reverberates, and it is in this way that collective sense is consolidated and reproduced.

Source: Environment and Planning A 44 13-20