This book has come into being through meeting and talking, as well as through writing. Its origins lie in a paper first given as an inaugural lecture at the University of Edinburgh, in February 2015. That paper and the later manuscript were completed during periods of sabbatical leave granted by the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, for which I am very grateful.

Many of my intellectual debts are acknowledged in citations and references throughout the book. I have incurred many more in classes and groups at the University of Edinburgh, at the Institut für höhere Studien, Vienna and the Institut für Politikwissenschaft, University of Vienna; in papers presented at the Universities of Bremen, Copenhagen, Duisburg, Liège, Frankfurt, Vienna and Østfold University College; at academic conferences of the European Consortium for Political Research and the Political Studies Association as well as on Policy and Politics and Interpretive Policy Analysis. In all of these places I have depended on unusually sympathetic and supportive organisers, convenors, hosts and discussants including Tobias Berger, John Berten, Alejandro Esguerra, Christoph Haug, Roy Heidelberg, Reinhard Kreissl, Martien Kuitenbrouwer, Beate Littig, Linda Monsees, Barbara Prainsack, Katharina Paul, Mikkel Rasmussen, Ronja Schütz, Henk Wagenaar and Angela Wroblewski.

I have thought and talked about doing politics and how to write about it in myriad encounters and conversations with many other friends and colleagues in Edinburgh and elsewhere. They have freely offered invaluable ideas and insights sometimes in close interrogation over several meetings, and sometimes in a passing and almost chance remark. Darcy Leigh was always supportive and always critical, in every sense. I also want to thank Mike Adler, Jamie Allinson, Maia Almeida-Amir, Rosie Anderson, Adrian Arbib, Guy Atkins, Sarah Ball, Angus Bancroft, Peter Biegelbauer, Kevin Birth, Christina Boswell, Keith Breene, Maddie Breeze, Christian Bueger, Rosalind Cavaghan, Kathryn Church, John Clarke, Philip Cook, Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock, Hilary Cornish, Naisargi Dave, Endre Dányi, Kristin Eggeling, Akwugo Emejulu, Oliver Escobar, Marc Geddes, Alan Finlayson, Liz Frazer, Sarah Hill, Jana Hoenke, Øyunn Høydal, Alistair Hunter, Hugo Gorringe, Karen Gregory, Steven Griggs, Simon Heald, Michael Heber, Laura Jeffery, Juliet Kaarbo, Russell Keat, Patrick Kilduff, David Laws, Lilian Lemberger-Cooper, Noémi Lendvai, Tania Li, Victoria Loughlan, Ewen McIntosh, Eric Mangez, Oliver Marchart, Jo Maybin, Mihaela Mihai, James Mitchell, Niamh Moore, Martyna Napierska, Larissa Nenning, Kate Orton-Johnson, John Parkinson, Lindsay Paterson, Alex Preda, Charles Raab, Rob Ralston, Simon Roberts, Scott Robertson, Johann von Roetel, Michael Rosie, Jen Ross, Max Rozenburg, Jen Sandler, Michal Sedlacko, Arno Simons, Indrė Širvinskaitė, Anna Souhami, Alex Smith, Jonathan Spencer, Ellen Stewart, Paul Stubbs, Steve Sturdy, Betsy Super, Mathias Thaler, Sophie Thunus, Jan Voß, Wilbert van Vree, Maya Wenzel, Ruth Wodak, Richard Williams, Jonathan Wyatt and Luca Zanier, though I remain more than usually responsible for the faults the book still contains.

I’ve had interested and creative technical and publishing advice from Paul Bason, Helen Hancock, Jakob Horstmann, Stacey Hunter, Martin Lealan, Ian Moutter, George Owers, Derek Rodger, Hannah Shakespeare and Andrew Taylor. Communications specialists at Edinburgh Gordon Coutts, Alison MacPherson and Marie Storrar saw in this project things that I couldn’t. And while I may have written the book, it’s Martin Baillie who made it what it is.

I have Sarah to thank for more than I can ever know or properly say. This book is for her, for doing politics and so much more besides.

I have always wanted all these people to meet and know each other, and have long held on to an idea that one day I would get them together in the same space. The different worlds we live in make that all but impossible, though I hope this book might serve instead, as a space for meeting.

Richard Freeman
December 2020