Policy Alienation and the Power of Professionals
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Policy Alienation and the Power of Professionals

Confronting New Policies

Lars Tummers

This eloquent book by Lars Tummers develops a framework to understand these important issues with policy implementation, using the innovative concept of ‘policy alienation’. Policies in healthcare, social security, and education are analyzed. The conclusions challenge the common assertions regarding the reasons why professionals resist policies. For instance, the impact of professional influence, often viewed as an end in itself, is nuanced. Lars Tummers reveals that it is far more important for professionals that a policy is meaningful for society and for their clients, than they have an influence in its shaping.
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Chapter 3: A definition of policy alienation

Confronting New Policies

Lars Tummers


The goal of this chapter is to conceptualize policy alienation of public professionals. As the concept of alienation will be applied to the public domain, where public professionals implement public policies, I must first explore the relationship between alienation, the nature of the public sector and public policies. This will be done in the first sections of this chapter. First, I analyze the work of Max Weber, who can be seen as the seminal scholar when it comes to considering the principles of bureaucracy. Thereafter, I look at the works of Robert Merton. Merton developed the concept of the bureaucratic personality, which is closely linked to the policy alienation concept. Next, I will link alienation to the works of Michael Lipsky, one of the founders of the study of policy implementation. Hereafter, I will examine the contemporary use of alienation in the sociology of work and organization. This will be combined with public administration literature to conceptualize policy alienation in public professionals. In order to show the relationship of policy alienation with other concepts, I will argue finally that it differs from related concepts such as role conflicts and resistance to change.

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