A Research Companion to Water Transitions around the Globe
Edited by Dave Huitema and Sander Meijerink
Chapter 2: Understanding and Managing Water Policy Transitions: A Policy Science Perspective
Sander Meijerink and Dave Huitema 2.1 Introduction In this chapter we lay a theoretical foundation for the case studies presented in the following chapters. The theoretical framework applied in this book is based on the policy science literature. Policy science is often defined as a subdiscipline of mainstream political science, one that covers ‘the totality of public decision-making’ and ‘investigates the complex links between inchoate public demands and the detailed implementation of policy choices’ (John, 1998, p. 3). The policy science literature is inspired by a large variety of approaches and theories, which are based on different ontological, epistemological and theoretical stands. Sets of theories that have informed policy sciences include (John, 1998): institutional approaches, group and network approaches, socio-economic approaches, rational choice theory and idea-based approaches. Because of our research interest in radical policy change and the strategies of policy entrepreneurs, we have included in our analysis a wide range of theories on policy continuity and change, such as the punctuated equilibrium framework (Baumgartner and Jones, 1991), the multiple streams framework (Kingdon, 1995), the advocacy coalition framework (Sabatier, 1993), discourse theory (Hajer, 1995) and policy network theory (for example Kickert et al., 1997). We have skimmed these theories for what they have to say on the roles and strategies of policy entrepreneurs. In this chapter we first explore the concept of policy stability or continuity and the different ways in which it is defined and explained. We move on to discuss policy change and the conditions conducive to its...
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