The pervasive importance of public policies in ordinary life is manifest in such diverse areas as defence, education, environmental protection, health care, unemployment benefits, motorway construction, monetary issues and taxes. For analytical purposes, however, it is useful to think of ways of categorizing public policies into specific groups, as this allows us to make more general statements. The objective of this chapter is to introduce and discuss criteria employed in the policy-analytical literature for categorizing public policies. The most widely applied instrument for achieving this refers to the construction of typologies, though the actual idea underlying these typologies is that specific groups of public policies entail equally specific patterns of policy-making. Thus, conceiving of these typologies as tools for descriptively categorizing public policies would not do them justice. We will suggest alternative approaches to categorizing public policies, which include considerations of how they bring about changes in the behaviour of those at whom the policy is aimed and how they shed light on different policy dimensions. While typologies represent simple analytical frameworks, the term ‘dimensions’ concerns the different aspects of a public policy which can refer to the stage of its development or its contents. We will also introduce the concept of policy styles, which refer to ways in which governments make and implement public policies: a perspective which further underscores the fact that the nature of public policies cannot be fully understood without paying attention to politics. More generally, the topics addressed in this chapter represent the key issues of ‘classical’ public policy analysis, and serve as the basis for subsequent explanations by providing a better understanding of what public policies are and how their particular characteristics might influence the process by which they are made.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- The Nature of Public Policies
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number