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The Fields of Public Policy

Abstract : Policy analysis has constructed its own concepts to describe groups and relations within the policy process. The latter include notions such as 'policy networks' or 'policy communities', 'iron triangles', 'advocacy coalitions', 'issue networks', 'epistemic communities', or in French academic literature 'concrete action systems' and 'policy sectors'. Yet Bourdieu's field sociology remains seldom applied in this subject. Field theory can nevertheless prove particularly useful in avoiding normative bias or the analytical limitations of ad hoc policy analysis categories. It is very helpful in objectifying the specific positions and systems of relations in which decisions and policies are made. It can also contribute to the understanding of both concrete relations and the more abstract relationship between this specific field (policy field, stricto sensu) and other social fields: first those directly concerned with a particular policy (for instance the arts field vs cultural policy); second those involved at different levels of policy making (e.g. the scientific field providing expertise to shed light on a problem or used by policy makers in a legitimization strategy). This article advocates a more systematic use of field theory in policy analysis. It shows how this theory could be incorporated into policy analysis, which has been constructed as a specific academic subject, in sociological research and theory. It displays examples taken from Bourdieu's work (on the State, on housing policy, on the 'field of power'), and from recent research (on cultural and social policies for instance).
keyword : Public policy field
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Contributor : Vincent Dubois Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 12:35:40 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, October 25, 2020 - 7:07:19 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 2:32:29 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-00660574, version 1


Vincent Dubois. The Fields of Public Policy. 2012. ⟨halshs-00660574⟩



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