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About this book

This brand new text examines power and inequalities and how these are central to our understanding of how policies are made and implemented. It introduces the concepts and theoretical approaches that underpin the study of the policy process, reflects upon key developments and applies these the practice of policy formulation and implementation.

Table of Contents

1. Public Policy and Policy Analysis

Abstract
This chapter discusses the meanings and scope of public policy and the ways in which the term is used in this book. It considers the development of interest in policy analysis and the uses to which it can be put. The chapter outlines the importance of power and the ways in which it can be exercised. It then considers different approaches to analysing the policy process, including those that consider ‘stages’ and those grounded in more dynamic perspectives. The chapter concludes with a brief consideration of important themes and developments under governments since 1979, including the ongoing influence of neo-liberal thinking changes such as the introduction of the devolved legislatures and the referendum decision in 2016 to leave the EU, with significant implications for the policy process across all tiers of government.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

2. Perspectives on Policy Making

Abstract
This chapter is concerned with exploring why a variety of models and theories can help us understand and explain different elements of the policy process. It outlines a number of models, such as rational and incremental decision making and models of bureaucratic influence, and illustrates how they can inform our understanding of the making and implementation of policies. The chapter also emphasises the impact that implementation can have on the outcomes of public policies. Theoretical perspectives, such as top-down approaches, and the problems of implementation are discussed, together with the variety of factors that can affect the implementation of policies. The chapter also considers issues around policy instruments, and how they might reflect existing power distributions, as well as the potential impacts of particular choices of instrument. While the preceding chapter highlighted some of the complexity and variety, and hence some of the challenges, associated with studying the policy process, this chapter moves on to consider a range of theoretical perspectives that can inform our understanding of the making and implementation of policy, and through that give us a greater appreciation of the forces that can exert an influence over the shaping of policies.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

3. Power and Policy

Abstract
This chapter discusses a number of what might loosely be termed ‘theories of power’ that can contribute to the analysis and explanation of the making and implementation of public policy in the UK. These include a variety of different interpretations of how widely power is dispersed and shared, from pluralist to elite theory approaches, the role of the state and how power is exercised. A knowledge of these perspectives is valuable, as the sources of power are likely to be perceived differently depending upon the theory adduced. While Chapter 1 outlined a variety of approaches that can help us understand policy change, and Chapter 2 considered a variety of perspectives that can be used to analyse and interpret the policy agenda, decision making and implementation, this chapter builds upon those by considering a number of approaches that are important in explaining the exercise of power, and, given the focus on public policy, the role of the state and state institutions in particular. The state can, for present purposes, be defined in terms of the institutions of which it is composed, and in terms of the functions that it performs.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

4. Key trends and Influences in policy making

Abstract
This chapter discusses a variety of trends in policy making and implementation, both national and international. Many of these, such as a growing emphasis on the use of technology, marketisation and contracting, and attempts to encourage citizen participation, along with the growth of supra-national organisations, are likely to be very familiar, while others, such as policy transfer and the increasing fragmentation of many areas of public service delivery, have arguably become much more common over time. The chapter seeks to explore and explain their relevance for understanding the contemporary policy process. The first three chapters of this book have introduced a range of models and theories that can help us understand the ways in which policies are made and implemented, and some of the influences upon policy making. This chapter moves on to consider a variety of trends that have been significant in recent years. Inevitably, this is highly selective and concise, in that without the pressures of space it would be possible to identify many more areas of development that might be included, and to provide much more discussion of them.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

5. Central Government

Abstract
While different tiers of government are examined in the following chapter, this chapter reflects the continued importance of central government in the determination of public policy, although also reflecting the variety of factors that limits its freedom to act. The chapter considers both legislative and policy-making functions, as well as the ability to influence policy in other ways, such as through fiscal controls, and even through emphasising particular goals or discourse. It outlines the variety of influences on the policy process at the level of central government, including ministers and the executive, the civil service, and Parliament, and their ability to make or control policy. The increasing role of legal and judicial mechanisms and the judiciary more broadly are examined. External influences such as supra-national organisations, think tanks, pressure groups and the media are also considered. One of the traditional ways of defining central government in the UK has been in terms of the Whitehall ministries and their outstations, staffed by civil servants, such as the Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. However, it is also possible to consider a broader ‘central state’, which would also include other large agencies that report directly to ministers and to other central policy influences, such as the armed forces. Both of these approaches fit closely with the institutionalist approach discussed in the preceding chapter.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

6. Multi-level Governance

Abstract
This chapter reflects the growth in awareness of multi-level governance and the arguably significant spread of powers to different levels of decision making over the past three decades. While there is an emphasis throughout this book on policy change, the key areas of this chapter perhaps encapsulate that particularly well, as during a six-month period during 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a referendum, albeit with great uncertainty over what ‘Brexit’ might entail and what the future might look like; the further progression of ‘devolution’ within England was called into question as its main proponent, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, left the Cabinet when Theresa May replaced David Cameron as Prime Minister; and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced plans to consult on legislation for a second referendum on independence for Scotland. The chapter considers the development of supra-national organisations, including the European Union, devolution to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the position of local government, its powers and provisions. Sovereignty has long been based upon the nation state, with even international law being widely viewed as the outcome of intergovernmental bargaining and resting on the voluntary compliance of states (Palumbo, 2015). More recently, the term ‘multi-level governance’ has been used to describe a situation where state sovereignty has been dispersed, downwards and upwards, to different tiers of government, such as new forms of regional government and the European Union.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

7. Government at Arm’s Length

Abstract
From the 1980s, the idea of ‘arm’s-length’ decision making and implementation has become an important feature of the policy process under successive governments, whether through more ‘formal’ approaches such as agencies and quangos, or through less formal mechanisms such as the removal of schools from local authority control or increasing the role of private and voluntary providers in state provision. In addition, the contracting out and privatisation of a whole range of government activities and services has arguably significantly changed their relationship with both governments and recipients. This chapter considers the arguments around government at arm’s length, together with a variety of associated issues such as accountability, regulation, scrutiny and the politicisation or de-politicisation of policy making and provision. An understanding of arm’s-length government and the issues surrounding it is important for those interested in public policy because many of the bodies that now deliver and regulate services either are arm’s-length bodies, or can to some extent be understood through an appreciation of the concept. From the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, arm’s-length bodies have been seen as important for a number of reasons, not least because the proportion of public expenditure and the range of governmental activities that they are responsible for have increased markedly, combined with the unelected status of those responsible for making what are often important decisions, and the extent to which this can be seen as effectively bypassing representative government, and consequent questions such as those associated with democracy and accountability, as explored further in this chapter.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

8. Evaluating policy

Abstract
While the importance of policy evaluation has in the past sometimes been underplayed, particularly by governments (and sometimes for understandable reasons), but also occasionally by academics and others, it is an important part of the policy process, and indeed the extent to which policies do or do not achieve their goals is clearly linked to many of the other topics in this book. This chapter therefore discusses why there is a need for policy evaluation, approaches to and methods and techniques of policy evaluation, and some of the problems and challenges associated with policy evaluation. It also considers tools such as audit and inspection, which have been widely used by governments in recent years, although arguably as much as management mechanisms as to inform the assessment and future development of policy. The monitoring and evaluation of policies have long been seen as a key element of the policy process (for example, Davies et al., 2000a; Hogwood and Gunn, 1984; Pollitt et al., 1979), particularly for judging the degree of success or failure of policies, and for feeding back into the formulation and implementation of new or revised policies, and in recent years the emphasis on this has grown further (for example, Howlett et al., 2009; Knill and Tosun, 2012; Palfrey et al., 2012; Parsons, 2017), linked not only to concern about the effectiveness (or otherwise) of policies and the much wider use of performance management tools, but also to the greater emphasis on the use of evidence in policy development (see Chapter 4).
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel

9. Conclusions

Abstract
This book has set out a wide range of perspectives that can inform our understanding of the variety of influences on the processes of formulating, implementing and evaluating public policy and the exercise of power. Developments from the 1970s onwards have been examined and can be seen as reflecting many of these influences. This chapter outlines some of the lessons that can be learnt from a consideration of the policy process in the United Kingdom. This book has introduced a wide range of theories, perspectives, models and approaches that can be applied to the policy process in order to enable us to better understand the making, implementation and evaluation of policy. As is apparent throughout the book, some of these conflict with each other, directly or indirectly, while others may serve to reinforce each other to varying extents; some may be descriptive, some analytical, and some prescriptive. However, they do have considerable value in offering a variety of lenses through which, singly or jointly, we can analyse the exercise of power in the public policy process. A focus on the contemporary policy process is likely to emphasise the ongoing, complex and dynamic nature of policy making and implementation, and to require consideration of the wide variety of influences and the ways in which power is exercised and decisions are made. As is made clear throughout this book, it is not always easy to define and recognise the parameters of many of the ideas dealt with here, including the definitions of ‘public policy’ and the ‘policy process’.
Catherine Bochel, Hugh Bochel
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