The ‘ideal’ policy making process

This is one of those blogs I have to get out of my head….that means it isn’t going to be full of references that back up my thoughts, I just need to round them up so that I can be more structured in taking them forward.

It’s prompted by the idea of the ‘ideal’ type – a normative standard against which we compare things.  Often ‘ideal’ types get understood as prescriptions…and also sometimes we start thinking that things actually do happen according to those ‘ideal’ types (which is dangerous!).

So as I’ve been looking into policy making, I’ve started to realise that we have a number of ‘ideals’ as to what it ought to be like.  I’m going to brain-dump them here…

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On ignorance, confusion and confidence

I’ve just been reading a book that draws on the work of Wittgenstein to state:

“He [Wittgenstein] maintained that there are two main kinds of problem: problems of ignorance (there are things existing that we do not know enough about and therefore we require more information), and problems of confusion (we have the information but we do not understand what it amounts to).”

Hart (1998, page 141)

This got me thinking…

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The lens of collaborative governance

One of the threads of academic discourse I have accrued papers on as I have been doing the ‘literature reviewing’ work referred to in my last post is that of “collaborative governance” – a recurring theme in public administration theory and research.  As my first in-road, I decided to read the most recent paper in my list – I figured that the new stuff will build on the shoulders of the old stuff so even if I don’t feel particularly inspired by the new stuff – at least I have a feeling of the names of the people who write about this stuff.  So the top of the pile (that is speaking figuratively, coz it’s all electronic) was a paper published in January 2012 (a year ago) by Emerson et al – called “An integrative framework for collaborative governance”.

It took a while to get used to the language – lots of familiar words, being used with particular nuances.  I read it, read it again and then started realising just how helpful it is to me in my work (yes, distracted from my journal article per se but nevertheless useful and interesting).  Perhaps it is the ‘integrative’ nature – in that it pulls on a wide range of other writing.  Perhaps it is the ‘framework’ side – hey, I love a theory, particularly one that comes with a diagrammatic conceptual model.  But I feel I’ve come across a gem.

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