Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society

Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society

Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society

Deliberative Policy Analysis: Understanding Governance in the Network Society

Synopsis

What kind of policy analysis is required now that governments increasingly encounter the limits of governing? Exploring the contexts of politics and policy making, this 2003 book presents an original analysis of the relationship between state and society, and new possibilities for collective learning and conflict resolution. The key insight of the book is that democratic governance calls for a new deliberatively-oriented policy analysis. Traditionally policy analysis has been state-centered, based on the assumption that central government is self-evidently the locus of governing. Drawing on detailed empirical examples, the book examines the influence of developments such as increasing ethnic and cultural diversity, the complexity of socio-technical systems, and the impact of transnational arrangements on national policy making. This contextual approach indicates the need to rethink the relationship between social theory, policy analysis, and politics. The book is essential reading for all those involved in the study of public policy.

Excerpt

In the early 1980s critical policy analysts began to aim their arrows at one of the key claims of positivist, technocratic policy science: its alleged neutral stance towards the politically charged issues that were the subject of its investigations and analyses. in fact, from its onset as an institutionalized discipline, the strict separation of knowledge and politics has been the raison d'être of traditional policy analysis. Through the application of neutral, scientific methods policy analysts would be able to generate objective knowledge that suggested optimal solutions to a broad range of social and economic problems. By systematically collecting and analysing the 'facts of the matter', traditional policy analysis claimed to be the voice of rationality, even the final cognitive arbiter, in a contested political world.

A number of critical scholars, such as Douglas Torgerson, Frank Fischer and Douglas Amy argued convincingly that this foundationalist self-image of positivist policy analysis was profoundly misguided. the neutral methods of scientific policy analysis itself presupposed strong assumptions about the constitution of society. These scholars asserted that the methodology and epistemology of positivist policy analysis tacitly assumed – and required – a certain hierarchical societal ordering. a 'scientistic', quantitative policy analysis was itself part of a particular institutional order in which political and economic elites, effectively insulated from the citizens' voice, sought to design economically efficient and technologically efficacious solutions to what they perceived as society's problems. By revealing the political bias in traditional policy analysis, these scholars turned the commonly understood relation between analysis and politics on its head. It is not so much the case, they argued, that analysis informs policy, but conversely, that a particular form of thin, representative democracy, in which, as deLeon puts it, the better informed few prescribe for the less-informed many . . .

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