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 3: Policy as ordering through documents

Michal Sedlačko


The processes and work of public policy seem to be deceptively low-tech; documents and meetings seem to be central to the ways policy is done. Documents play the role of policy inputs, the means through which policy workers carry out their tasks, and are also the chief form of policy outputs. This chapter develops theoretical and methodological sensibility for the material, practical and ‘ordering’ aspects of policy documents, foregrounding the ways ‘things’ are translated into arrangements of words and numbers, and translated back into ‘things’ (i.e. action). Policy or governing is in this context understood as ‘sociomaterial ordering’ with the aim to prefigure fields of action, and documents are one of the main vehicles of sociomaterial ordering through which policy or governing are realised. The central contribution of this chapter lies in the description and classification of the ‘powers’ of documents, serving for specifying the methodological approach of tracing documents’ empirical effects in studies of the policy process.

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