Public Administration and Public Policy in Ireland: Theory and Methods

Public Administration and Public Policy in Ireland: Theory and Methods

Public Administration and Public Policy in Ireland: Theory and Methods

Public Administration and Public Policy in Ireland: Theory and Methods


This book provides a comprehensive introduction to public policy and administration in Ireland, thereby bridging the gap between general texts on public policy and policy analysis and books on Irish politics. Each chapter covers one of the key issues in policy analysis, eg. rational choice, corporatism, and then illustrates this with an empirical Irish case study. With the inclusion of further reading, overviews of main concepts and source material, the editors provide a student-friendly textbook which fills an important gap in the available literature on Irish politics and public administration.


Elitism and agri-environmental policy in Ireland

Mark Evans and Liam Coen

Elite theorists argue that the history of politics has been characterized by the history of elite domination. Elite theory therefore challenges the key premises of most western liberal assumptions about politics, the organization of government and the relationship between the state and civil society. As Gaetano Mosca puts it:

In all societies-from societies that are very meagerly developed and have barely attained the dawning of civilization, down to the most advanced and powerful societies-two classes of people appear-a class that rules and a class that is ruled. the first class, always the less numerous, performs all political functions, monopolizes power and enjoys the advantages that power brings, whereas the second, the more numerous class, is directed and controlled by the first.

(Mosca 1939:50)

Hence, for elite theorists the nature of any society-whether it is consensual or authoritarian, pacifist or totalitarian, legitimate or illegitimate-is determined by the nature of its elite. This chapter provides a critical review of the content and nature of elite theory and assesses its contribution to our understanding of contemporary political science in general and the study of the Irish policy process in particular. It develops three central arguments. First, it argues that elitism still provides an important focus for the work of political scientists and political sociologists, particularly in the United States, and continues to present a compelling critique of the liberal democratic model. Second, the chapter observes that one of the most striking features of modern and contemporary elitist perspectives lies in their convergence with once-opposite theoretical traditions. Third, it argues that contemporary variants of the elitist approach focus less on providing a grand narrative on who governs and more on highlighting the nature and role of privileged elites in decision-making centres.

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