Presentation on theme: "Week 6.2 Policy Networks and Change – Agenda Setting, Punctuated Equilibrium and Advocacy Coalitions."— Presentation transcript:
1 Week 6.2 Policy Networks and Change – Agenda Setting, Punctuated Equilibrium and Advocacy Coalitions.
2 StabilityLiterature on policy monopolies stresses stability of group/ government relationsSuggests policy continuity and incrementalismStability explained by agenda setting –Defining policy problems and their solutionsInfluencing the extent to which issues are discussed
3 Change The same agenda-setting literature can also help explain change There is competition to define issues, and influence the extent of discussionSuccessful redefinitions of policy may bring in previously excluded participants, shift political alignments and “punctuate” previously stable policy environments
4 But What is Agenda Setting? Definition elusive, but 3 statements are relevant:There is an almost unlimited amount of “policy problems” that could be given the most attention (“reaching the top of the political agenda” ) by the government, media or publicVery few subjects will find their way onto the political agenda, while most others will not;Certain policy solutions will be considered while others are not.
5 Agenda-setting literature … … seeks to explain this limited success for some issues and solutionsStress on competition to define issuesResources of participantsSocio-economic conditions (link)Context of policy, media and public preferencesLinks to power and decision-making clear
6 What is an Agenda? Dearing and Rogers (1996: 1) broader conception: The agenda setting process is an ongoing competition among issue proponents to gain the attention of media professionals, the public, and policy elites.
7 Lecture focus on Policy Agenda Kingdon’s (1984: 3) definition:The list of subjects or problems to which government officials, and people outside of government closely associated with those officials, are paying some serious attention at any given time … the agenda setting process narrows [a] set of conceivable subjects to the set that actually becomes the focus of attention.
8 Importance of Problem Definition Kingdon (1984: 103-4): “There is a difference between a condition and a problem … conditions become defined as problems when we come to believe that we should do something about them .. the problem doesn’t have to get any worse or better”.Jones (1994: 5): “decision-makers value or weight preferences differently depending on the context in which they are evoked”
9 Problem definition is key to decision making Policy issues are “inherently multi-dimensional”There is no end to possible ways of looking at a problem, but only so much time and energy to devote to issues.So, highly complex issues are simplified, with very few aspects of a complex policy problem focussed on at any one time at the expense of all the rest.
10 Problem definition depends on: Framing/ Categorisation – how issues are portrayed. Technical to limit debate, wider social themes to heighten participation. Needle exchanges, fuel crisis, smoking.The appearance of crisis – natural disaster or less obvious (crisis in the NHS)Measurement – involves choices. Note measurements of poverty – absolute or relative. Initial AIDS diagnoses.Exaggerated effects – either of marginal change (unemployment, interest rates, house prices) or predictions (AIDS, BSE, bird flu) ……
11 Values – e.g. rights v privilege Links to Rhetorical Values – fairness, equality, patriotism, inclusiveness etc.Causality and the availability of a solution – a problem only a problem if “something can be done about it”. Poverty policy followed links to structural factors and the ID of solutions. Challenging causality may mean challenging policy – e.g. HIV/ AIDS in South Africa.
12 Comparisons/ policy learning - policy innovation in one country makes the policy seem more achievable.Expansion from self interest to general problem (e.g. business rates and economy)Symbols/ Positive and Negative Associations – e.g. AIDS and children/ haemophiliacs; Lawrence, Climbie.The Venue or level of government - e.g. harm reductionThe target audience – who is affected? E.g. Housing market v homelessness
13 Why do some issues not make it? Problem DefinitionCrowded OutProblem not recognised (e.g. environment pre-1960s)Deemed not to be a legitimate state concernNon-decision-making
14 What is a Policy Network/ Community/ Monopoly? Debate over meaning of network for another timeOnly relevance is that policy community now regarded as particular kind of networkPolicy community approach as alternative to focus on Parliament/ legislative processThe basic arguments are:
15 Policy CommunitiesMuch/ most public policy processed by specialist communitiesRelatively invisible to wider actorsPolicy technical with few interestedCommunity set-up in response to scope of governmentComplex policy broken down into manageable technical issuesLogic to devolving decisions to civil service and them consulting with certain affected interests ….
16 Organisations trade information/ advice for access and influence Type of community varies according to resources of groups and attitude of governmentWhen communities are stable they have:small numbers of participantscoalitions between the participants with little scope for conflictbargaining on the details based on general agreement over problem definition, with little room for dissenting perspectiveslow levels of external attention
17 Some accounts stress the gaining of personal trust, through the awareness of, following, and reproduction of “rules of the game” …… immersion within a “common culture” in which there exists a great deal of agreement on the nature and solutions to policy problems.
18 How are communities insulated? Policy framed in such a way and broken down to such a level (“sub-sectoral”) that few have the interest or knowledge or time to engageThink seed potatoes, milk additives, detailed clinical proceduresPotential for sectoral intervention but the day-to-day decisions taken in relative obscurityincentive for those actors involved in routine but important decisions to protect their privileged position .. even if they are unhappy with policy outcomes at particular points
19 Links to power and agenda-setting 1. Exercising power by limiting the participants2. Exercising power by limiting the agenda or the extent of debate around policy issues.3. Exercising power by “framing” or defining problems in a particular way.This is “second-face” power rather than direct conflict with winners and losers …
20 Relevance to Schattschneider: “All forms of political organization have a bias in favor of the exploitation of some kinds of conflict and the suppression of others because organization is the mobilization of bias. Some issues are organized into politics while others are organized out.”
21 But how pervasive are policy communities? Subject to debateMarsh and Rhodes see it as one end of continuumIssue networks at the other endDifficult to limit: the number of participants, the range of issues under discussion and the ways to define and deal with policy problems (see next slide)
23 How do we explain this variation? Punctuated Equilibrium.Baumgartner and Jones (1993):“The forces that create stability during some periods are the same that combine during critical periods to force dramatic and long-lasting changes during other periods”.
24 Conditions necessary to develop or challenge “policy monopolies” Attempt to subvert open discussionNot about a fight, more about preventing others turning out for a fight or knowing there is one to be hadAttempt to make sure institutional arrangements work on the basis of a problem defined in a certain wayUse of new ideas or evidence to challenge these strategies …
25 Baumgartner argumentProblem definition - policy issues are “inherently multi-dimensional”.Competition to Define Problems – these ways to look at problems may not be contradictory but there may be choice of focusPublic Policy Consequences (which are difficult to change – remember incrementalism)
26 Attention shift“Attention can shift dramatically as new dimensions gain prominence and others are ignored”This is “Surprisingly common over the long run”Successfully reframing the issue means an issue shifts from “communities of professionals who know all the arguments to higher levels of public, media, and governmental awareness”Involvement of the previously uninvolved
27 Venue ShiftAttention shift suggests that the successful redefinition of a problem accompanied by an influx of new interested actors leads to the realignment of those actors and institutions.This may involve pursuing issues in other “venues” if one is relatively closed – e.g. an EU or devolved strategy to counter UK dominance
28 ExamplesPesticides – shift from scientific progress/ ending world hunger to e.g. toxic effects on environmentNuclear power – from scientific advance/ solving energy crisis and dependence on oil to environment and financial costs of disposalSmoking – from Marlboro Man and value as industry to cancer and passive smoking
29 Attention shift and policy change Attention shift highlights “new” policy problems which require solutionsSolutions already exist – they just need to be adapted to the problems as framedPolicy change if the conditions are right …
30 Policy windows (Kingdon) “The policy window is an opportunity for advocates of proposals to push their pet solutions, or to push attention to their special problems .. advocates lie in wait in and around government with their solutions at hand, waiting for problems to float by to which they can attach their solutions “ ….
31 “Separate streams come together at critical times “Separate streams come together at critical times. A problem is recognized, a solution is developed and available in the policy community, a political change makes it the right time for policy change, and potential constraints are not severe … these policy windows, the opportunities for action on given initiatives, present themselves and stay open for only short periods”
32 Policy windowsImportance of reframing problems and adapting solutions at critical junctures:Mass public transport (congestion 1950s, pollution 1960s, oil shortage 1970s)Harm reduction existed long before HIVPrivate health care UK (Rolling back the state/ Thatcher; reducing waiting lists and gaining value for public money/ Blair)Public health and 9/11 (bioterrorism)Piggybacking onto bigger issues – e.g. diabetes and needle exchanges
33 The Advocacy Coalition Framework Similar link between networks and changeBased on US but applicable to EU?Starting point is division of policy into subsystems with 1-4 competing advocacy coalitions and a “policy broker”. But:Sectoral rather than subsectoralACs contain more actors from wider process – e.g. researchers and journalistsAlso includes actors from multiple levels of government……
34 … because of link to implementation research and the tracking of policy over a full “cycle”; a “decade or more”Emphasis on “belief systems” as glue that binds participants within ACsRange from “core beliefs” (“nature of man”, priorities of values – e.g. freedom v security), “policy core” (proper scope of government, coercion v persuasion) to “secondary aspects” (e.g. best way to deliver)
35 Core beliefs impervious to change Akin to “religious conversion”Policy beliefs may change after “shocks to the system” - changes in socio-economic conditions, public opinion and the effects of policies external to the subsystemSecondary aspects change following policy-learning – e.g. environmental ACs (from command-and-control to economic incentives)
36 ACF model of stability and change Parameters of policy – constitution, social structures/ valuesCore values of actorsDominance of one AC?
37 Change inspired by external events: new resources to challenge AC dominance and/ orassimilation of new evidenceBut note treatment of evidenceCore beliefs unaltered“Evidence” subject to interpretation/ ranking using those values
38 Speculative example of smoking/ Ireland: Evidence for pro-tobacco AC = more smoking at home next to children, more domestic fires, drop in pub tradeEvidence for anti-smoking AC = numbers quitting, successful implementationPro-tobacco questions research on implementationAnti-smoking suggests less smoking at home after made aware of passive effects
39 Evidence feeds and informed by broader belief system e.g. that people should be free to smoke as long as smoking is legal/ that the state should not be involved at this level of individual behaviourthat smoking is a public health disaster/ that the limits to types of liberty are justified by wider notions of liberty based on protection from harm.
40 ACF final pointsSurface level jostling over policy positions and delivery underpinned by core beliefsChange is apparent even if one AC dominates (policy learning)Change through reacting to external eventsDominance unlikely given importance of external events?E.g. oil crisis, new President/ government
41 Issues with literature The Applicability of US Literature ?More closed system in W European states, more scope for smaller insulated communities?Europeanisation/ MLG makes these models more applicable?
42 The Role of “External” Factors Technological change which affects the range of policy choices, economic effects, demographic change, oil crises, etc. but also changes in public opinion or governmental turnover.Primacy over process? E.g. energy policy/ natural resources; pensions policy/ demographics; smoking/ public opinion; Thatcher/ Reagan elections the biggest effect on 1980s policy …
43 Emphasis on mediation of external factors They constrain but leave room for discretionAgenda-setting suggest that the problems themselves are subject to interpretation – “oil crisis”, “pensions time bomb”, “public health disaster”, etcACF - external change explains shifts within subsystemsHelps explain why policy windows open briefly – e.g. Medicare and brief Democrat dominance before Johnson/ Vietnam; energy crisis and transport solutionsB&J – external factors such as shifting public attention/ opinion can be used as resources
44 Bigger picture of rationality “Punctuated equilibrium” suggests that long periods of stability in policy are punctuated by the rapid shifts of attention and therefore resource allocationTherefore incrementalism does not fit as a universal explanation for the policy process.But does this focussed attention mean most other areas unaltered?
45 Does Attention Necessarily Affect Policy? Baumgartner and Jones - peak periods of organisation change “generally coincided with Gallup Poll data showing public concern with the same problems”Soroka/ Lim – responsiveness of budgets varies by country. UK less responsive than US. Partly explained by definition of problem – a question of expenditure in the US but efficiency in t he UK?Kingdon - public attention is more influential to prompt action than to specify what that action should beEffect of public attention – “Do something”Difference between public attention and public opinionHogwood/ Peters distinction between policy attention causing substantial action or “moving boxes around”
46 Full circle with Hogwood: “We should not confuse the public prominence of political activities with intensity of government concern … much of the most important discussion about shaping public policy in Britain takes place in private”.
47 Conclusion – agenda setting and monopolies Definition of problem to limit participation and allocate resourcesSuccessful challenges over definition lead to policy changeExtent of stability through dominance and change through reframing an empirical question?