Interrogating Public Policy Theory
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Interrogating Public Policy Theory

A Political Values Perspective

Linda C. Botterill and Alan Fenna

This book questions the way policy making has been distanced from politics in prevailing theories of the policy process, and highlights the frequently overlooked ubiquity of values and values conflicts in politics and policy. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of current theories, reviews the illusions of rationalism in politics, and explores the way values are implicated throughout the democratic process, from voter choice to policy decisions. It argues that our understanding of public policy is enhanced by recognizing its intrinsically political and value-laden nature.
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Chapter 2: Studying public policy

Linda C. Botterill and Alan Fenna


The study of public policy has become increasingly detached from its close relative, political science. Interdisciplinary aspirations, originating with Lasswell, have not been met, and there is disagreement among policy scholars about the nature of their work. The complexity of the field is often addressed by distinguishing between theoretical studies of the policy process and applied studies that seek to influence policy. In spite of its close affinity with political science, policy studies have sought to develop their own theories of public policy, often detached from the realities of the political process of which policy is a part. Such efforts are subject to the same limitations that confront the social sciences in general when it comes to theorizing about a subject matter so complex and indeterminate.

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