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About this book

The comparative approach to public policy illuminates the policy process in both foreign and domestic contexts and also provides valuable lessons on how governments and organizations can do things differently.

This new introductory text combines information about public policies in different countries with an explanation of the frameworks that have been used to analyze these policies. It compares public policies across a wide range of countries and across core policy areas, including welfare, education, healthcare and the environment. This comparison of different policy areas provides the foundation for a critical overview of the main theories and methodological issues in comparative public policy.

Informed by the latest research, the text examines the key variables that lead to different policies in different countries. It also assesses the challenges posed by attempts to transfer policies from one society to another and assesses the impact of globalization on public-policy making. Supported by a wealth of figures, charts and real-life international examples, this book provides a comprehensive and integrated introduction to comparative public policy in the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Why Compare Public Policies?

Abstract
The comparative approach to investigating policy processes, outputs and outcomes, is an important, if under-used, tool for researchers and policymakers. It can, of course, help us understand policy-making and its consequences in foreign nations, but can also illuminate policy processes in our own country. It provides ‘free lessons’ on how to make policy differently, and awakens us to the contingency of ‘how things are done’ in our own country. Comparing policy in different nations can also provide us with a deeper and richer understanding of the fundamental drivers of policy-making and how it impacts on the world.
Anneliese Dodds

Chapter 4. Welfare Policy

Abstract
The term ‘welfare’ has been understood in a variety of different ways. Social security and pensions have often been seen as core areas of welfare provision (Esping-Andersen, 1990). However, ‘welfare policy’ can also be defined as covering all activities in which governments engage to promote the wellbeing of their populations, covering health, housing, nutrition and education, as well as income maintenance (Wilensky, 1975: 1). This chapter concentrates on income maintenance policies such as transfers, but also refers to other areas of welfare policy (including housing and family policy) where relevant. Education and health policy are considered in subsequent chapters.
Anneliese Dodds

Chapter 6. Education Policy

Abstract
It is difficult to circumscribe the realm of education policy because opinions differ over the extent to which certain matters should be taught or learned, and how they should be taught or learned. Education policies themselves ‘project definitions of what counts as education’ (Ball, 1990: 3), with the religious, work-related, nationalistic and ideological content of education varying across countries.
Anneliese Dodds

Chapter 8. Interests and Public Policy

Abstract
Ambrose Bierce (1911) famously suggested that ‘politics’ referred to the ‘strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles’. As this chapter indicates, many authors agree with him, arguing that both politics and policy-making can be assimilated with the pursuit of interest. This is particularly the case for rational choice theorists, Marxists and Elitists, radical feminists, cleavage theorists, theorists of interest groups and of corporatism, and power resource theorists. However, these approaches differ substantially over how interests can be defined, and which group and/or individual interests are perceived as being likely to shape policy. In addition to these approaches, other perspectives on policy-making stress the fact that policies themselves can shape interests, and also that the pursuit of interests can be affected by the institutional and ideational context. A common problem for all of these approaches is the vagueness of the concept of interest itself, considered in detail in the next section.
Anneliese Dodds

Chapter 9. Ideas and Public Policy

Abstract
This chapter follows the structure of the previous one by first describing how ‘ideas’ might be defined, then detailing ideas-based approaches to the comparative analysis of public policy. Some of the ideas-based perspectives described here (such as policy design, policy learning and policy-oriented research) fall within the mainstream of academic and political approaches to policy analysis. Others, particularly postmodernism, are highly controversial. Yet others, such as interpretivism, began at the fringes of policy analysis but have become increasingly common.
Anneliese Dodds

Chapter 12. Policy-Making beyond the Nation State

Abstract
More intense and extensive cross-national flows of trade, capital, people and information can destabilize policies which were previously implicitly based on assumptions of restricted mobility. Nonetheless, such desta-bilization does not itself automatically prescribe the nature of the policy models which follow (Blyth, 2002: 35). Indeed, tracing the impact of cross-national pressures on policy-making is a highly complicated task. Broadly, such pressures can exert influence in two directions: by changing the structural incentives for policy-makers, and by promoting or proscribing certain courses of action (Jakobsen, 2010: 895).
Anneliese Dodds

Chapter 14. Doing Comparative Public Policy

Abstract
Comparative public policy research has enormous promise for improving our understanding — not only of policy-making and implementation in other countries, but also of domestic public policy. However, as with many research strategies, comparative public policy research requires scholars to give careful consideration to a number of difficult choices, and to face up to a range of challenges which threaten the validity and reliability of findings. How this can be done is the focus of this chapter. Hence, whilst preceding chapters focused on the findings of comparative public policy research, this chapter examines its process.
Anneliese Dodds
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