Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing
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Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing

Edited by H. K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe

This Handbook covers the accounts, by practitioners and observers, of the ways in which policy is formed around problems, how these problems are recognized and understood, and how diverse participants come to be involved in addressing them. H.K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe draw together a range of original contributions from experts in the field to illuminate the ways in which policies are formed and how they shape the process of governing.
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Chapter 2: ‘Whatever governments choose to do or not to do’

Edward C. Page

Abstract

If policy is what government chooses to do or not to do, this leaves open the question of the nature of the choices made. They might not be made by politicians or senior officials, but rather be the result of the activities and decisions of those much lower down, or even people outside government. Some such choices might not really be choices at all, but rather reflect an undeliberated acceptance of inertia, external constraints or faits accomplis. The nature of choices made by government is thus highly diverse. This diversity can be significantly simplified by recognising that there are two main dimensions to all policy making: a heroic and a humdrum dimension. The nature of these two dimensions, their relationship and their significance are explored on the basis of one example drawn from UK experience, the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act and its subsequent development and elaboration.

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