Liberal Democracy and Policy‐Making: Knowledge and the Formation of Social Policy

Desmond King

in In The Name of Liberalism

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198296294
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599668 | DOI:
 Liberal Democracy and Policy‐Making: Knowledge and the Formation of Social Policy

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King presents a historical account of the rise of expert influence on public policy and offers an explanation of how governments adopt illiberal social policies shaped by these expert ideas. He maintains that liberal democracy necessarily creates the need for expertise as a basis for social policy since first, it permits freedom of ideas and competition amongst them; second, it politically requires government intervention to establish equality of opportunity by rectifying sources of inequality or by expanding choice. King draws examples from his case studies focusing on what he views as the increasing professionalization of social science research in think tanks, research institutes, foundations, and universities. More broadly, King highlights the role of ideas in public policy, thus downplaying the relative importance of institutional arrangements or ‘policy networks’ as determining features of public policy‐making.

Keywords: equal opportunity; expertise; ideas; institutionalism; liberal democracy; policy networks; policy‐making; social policy; social science

Chapter.  9171 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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