Chapter

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019924264X.003.0002
 Constructing Policy Theory: Ideas, Language, and Discourse

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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

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