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Power and policymaking

By Annabel K. Kiernan


This thesis is concerned with approaches to policymaking analysis. It argues that\ud dominant neo-pluralist theories of policymaking have limited explanatory force.\ud This arises from the method of inquiry, which necessarily limits the scope of\ud analysis. The emphasis on inductive methods, coupled with a narrow focus on nonformalised\ud sub-state networks, produces a model which is a useful way of\ud identifying non-state policy actors, but which has no explanatory capacity outside\ud such networks.\ud In particular two weaknesses in network analysis are highlighted as significant. The\ud first is that neo-pluralism does not account for the possible constraint on meso-level\ud activity by the state. The state's ability to constrain individual agency may arise\ud either from its position as a distinct social actor, or from it being an aspect of\ud structural constraint. As this latter point implies, the second key weakness with\ud neo-pluralist network analysis is owing to its structural indeterminism.\ud The thesis argues that an adequate account of the policymaking process must\ud recognise the possibility of limits to actor autonomy which arise from individual\ud interaction with structure. Although the argument is made for a structural\ud dimension to policymaking analysis, it concedes the dangers of functionalism and\ud determinism which can arise from the application of structural frameworks.\ud Consequently, the thesis argues for a duality of structure and agency as the core of\ud political analysis. This argument is made on theoretical grounds, and via discussion\ud of an empirical case study of the EU Task Force Environment: Water.\ud The argument then is for a dual approach to policymaking which utilises both\ud inductive and deductive methods. It is argued (a) that a Marxist analysis of the state\ud and the structural constraints of capitalism can be combined (although not\ud integrated) with networks analysis in a dual approach, and (b) that this\ud combination provides the best model of policymaking

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