Constructing Policy Theory: Ideas, Language, and Discourse

Frank Fischer

in Reframing Public Policy

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780199242641
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599255 | DOI:
 Constructing Policy Theory: Ideas, Language, and Discourse

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines the renewed interest in the role of ideas, language and discourse in policy studies. Distinguishing postempiricist from mainstream perspectives, the discussion sets the stage for a more detailed presentation of the discourse–analytic approach and the deliberative practices to which it gives rise. There are seven main sections: Reconsidering Ideas; Beyond Self-Interest: Ideas Matter; Neo-Institutionalism and Policy Ideas (neo-institutionalism is defined as a theoretical orientation that has focused on the evolutionary relationship of ideas and norms to institutional practices); Policy Communities, Issue Networks, and Learning –– the studies discussed include Heclo’s (1978) seminal conceptualization of issue networks, and the work of Haas (1992) on policy communities and networks; Critical Theory: Distorted Communication and Discursive Ideals –– this looks at the critical theory of Habermas, which supplies a normative ideal for communication and argumentation; Discourse of Power V this looks at Foucault’s focus on the role of discourses as they have functioned in specific historical contexts; and Postempiricism as Discursive Policy Inquiry.

Keywords: argumentation; communication; critical theory; discourse; discursive politics; Haas; Habermas; Heclo; ideas; issue networks; language; learning; neo-institutionalism; policy communities; policy ideas; policy inquiry; policy studies; policy theory; postempiricist approaches; power; public policy

Chapter.  14337 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.