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 22: Problematization

David Dery


This chapter seeks to bring to the fore the power of the politics of problem definition which seems to have lost its importance as the process through which different groups of people learn to live together and together pursue evolving visions of the good life. We argue that the problem definition perspective offers much more than a possible explanation for the rise of issues onto the public agenda. To clarify the place of problem definition in public policymaking, we first take note of problem definition in the context of policy analysis. Next, the notion of problematization serves us well as shorthand for the ongoing processes – “issue selection” as well as “problem definition” – through which people with different values, visions, and preferences learn to live together. Finally, both processes provide a useful and rich conceptual framework for understanding the preservation as well as the renewal of the values society lives by.

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