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 8: Public policy, values and the political process

Linda C. Botterill and Alan Fenna


A political values perspective draws attention to the essentially political nature of the policy process. This implies that the policy process is democratically responsive. The key connection between the values and policy preferences of the citizenry and the policy process lies with the political parties, their ideological packages, and the values preferences embedded therein. There has been much debate in the political science and political psychology literature about the extent to which the average voter holds meaningful ideological positions and therefore is sufficiently informed to make political choices and express policy preferences. Political parties provide cognitive shortcuts to voters by presenting ideological positions that lead voters to make partisan choices broadly in line with their own values. As new values issues arise in the community, often promoted by social movements and new political parties, the established parties adapt their position to encompass these new values issues.

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