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A Phenomenology of the Policy Process

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image of International Journal of Comparative Sociology
For more content, see Comparative Sociology.

This essay sought to provide from a phenomenological perspective some necessary building blocks for a theory of the policy process. To that end the concepts of plan and policy were discussed and an ideal typology of policy actions was developed. Contrary to what one might suppose, the subjectivism of preferences and expectations does not necessarily lead to chaos in the social world since policy planners tend to orient their plans to political institutions. It is these orientations, not any "arenas of power" or policy "content," which provides some degree of determinateness in the policy process as a whole. Unfortunately, most typologies and theories ignore the ordering role played by these institutional components. With very few exceptions, they likewise shunt aside the conflictual dynamics of policy. We conclude, therefore, that any theory of the policy process-we emphasize "process" in this connection-must place political institutions and conflict at the center of its analysis.


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