Policy Making: Effective And Deliberative Process

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Policy making is sometimes presented as an inclusive and deliberative process that follows a certain number of rational steps – as conceiving a policy, making a policy and implementing a policy. The essay will discuss two case studies – disability politics and the Single European Market – and will show that policy making is not by essence an inclusive, deliberative and rational process. The essay will argue that policy making might benefit from being inclusive, but inclusiveness is not granted but rather the result of activism. The essay will also show that a deliberative process can be a façade behind which real political power is exercised. Finally, the essay will argue that policy making is significantly influenced by ideology rather than…show more content…
First, policy making cannot be correctly investigated without considering the balance of power – not only on decision making, but also on setting the agenda. It can thus be argued that policy making is neither inclusive nor deliberative by definition, but more often located in the hands of an elite. However, on the basis of case studies on local policy making, American political scientist Robert Dahl rejected the idea that a small elite determined policy, as city politics responded to demands from diverse groups of activists – meaning that the policy process was permeable to diverse interests and thus ‘pluralist’ (Mabbett, 2005, p. 13). It can be useful here to make a distinction between ‘low’ politics, such as providing benefits and services to the population, and ‘high’ politics, as international diplomacy and agreements (Mabbett, 2005, p. 16). In ‘low’ politics, social movements can more easily make their voice heard, and realign the balance of power– meaning that policy making can indeed become more inclusive and deliberative. On the contrary, in ‘high’ politics, the imbalance of power is so great that it seems almost impossible to bend the powerful – in that case, inclusion and deliberation act as a veil behind which real power is exercised. Second, the case studies have shown the importance of values, meaning that policy making cannot be summarised to a sole rational process. Values can refer to social norms and standards – as equality in areas like gender and race, but also ideological frameworks to approach economy – as the supposed benefit of liberalization (Prokhovnik, 2005, pp. 158, 162). Policy making does not follow a certain number of rational steps – it is actually ‘a more messy process, a more political process, and sometimes a more bloody process’ (Mike Saward, speaking in The Open University,

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