Lecture 3 Recap: Policy, Policy Work and Policy Success

Today we discussed what a policy is (many things), or is not (e.g. a law), and how to think about it. Essentially the lecture introduced three heuristics/models to think about policy. One is the policy cycle that originates from the work of Easton and Harold Lasswell. Another is the distinction between policy as a process, programme and politics. The third one is policy (work) as authoritative choice, structured interaction and social construction.

Examples were abundand in the discussion, from Trump’s use of policy as politics to claim success in all areas of public life to policies in India, China and The Philippines. We discussed the use of evidence in politics to some degree, but more on that in Lecture 13, which will also discuss in more detail the shortcomings of the policy cycle model of policy-making. The linear relationship between science/experts and policy-making has been discussed as problematic all over the world, apparently a revelation from those in more authoritatian countries. There persist perhaps an idea that there is more “objective” decision-making in the Western democracies, which is of course not the case. Institutions in liberal democracies allow for pluralism of ideologies and arguments, and this is healthier on the long run against the shocks, but there is no political system in the world where evidence determines policy. It is one of the many inputs into political negotiations and decision-making. More on Friday the 23rd.


Assistant Professor at International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands

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