Policy Theory and Policy Evaluation: Concepts, Knowledge, Causes, and Norms

Policy Theory and Policy Evaluation: Concepts, Knowledge, Causes, and Norms

Policy Theory and Policy Evaluation: Concepts, Knowledge, Causes, and Norms

Policy Theory and Policy Evaluation: Concepts, Knowledge, Causes, and Norms

Synopsis

This volume explores four basic theoretical issues in public policy analysis: conceptual theory, theory of knowing, casual theory, and normative analysis; the final section addresses future aspects of policy theory. The editors' introduction provides essential definitions, a discussion of five necessary elements of policy evaluation, and a review of key characteristics of good policy analysis. Ten chapters written by fourteen experts in the field treat such areas as relativity and quantum logics, policy design, the argumentation process, and more.

Excerpt

David Dery

When the season's first rain comes pouring, it is apparent to all that it is the first rain indeed. But the so-called April rain may be recognized as the season's last, only weeks after the clouds have cleared the sky. What might be called "a first-rain conception of knowledge" has long dominated our understanding of the nature and role of social research in public policy making. the very fact that some rules of observation and inference had been followed in producing a given set of data and interpretations were supposed to have guaranteed "policy knowledge," an authoritative guide for action. and if policy practitioners refused to utilize policy research, this has been seen as a puzzle that called for explanation, usually inviting comments on some contextual ingredients of the research in question, or on the triumph of politics.

A "last-rain" conception of knowledge--assuming a very long season, one that will not end in our lifetime--would place researchers and practitioners alike in a fundamentally different world. in this world one never truly knows anything for sure, and what one does know, that is, accepts as policy knowledge, is known only in retrospect. What is known retrospectively, moreover, is the product not of some ultimate tests, but of social interaction and contextual, passing, consensus. It is the aim of this chapter to sketch in brief how this last-rain conception of knowledge might affect the way we conceptualize decisional processes and, in turn, the way we envision the nature and role of policy research (see Dery, 1990).

Going about in darkness

Policy knowledge, in the sense of that which guides action, is not handed down from scientists to practitioners but is itself the product of political and . . .

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