POLS 3670 lecture 1 01/09/2014
Politics is who gets what when and how, policy is a mechanism to distribute this.
Policy refers to the action and inaction of a government to address or resolve a problem or an inter related
set of problems.
Policy is about what governments do and do not to.
Policy refers to what STATE actors do.
Non state actors have an impact on policy but do not make it.
Examples of non state actors are lobby groups, corporations, Trading partners, group representatives,
religious institutions, NGO’s.
Refers to decisions made by authoritative positions.
The second implication is that it must solve a problem and the government must define this problem
because not everyone see it as a problem.
The next implication is it is about the intentional actions our government plans to take.
to analyze the effectiveness of policy you can look at it from the macro or micro levels. This is generally an
individual approach such as asking people directly affected or by studying the government actions and
studying the outcomes vs. the beginning.
Positivism refers to the view that there is an objective approach, they see something as very close to a
There is an objective way to study policy, there is a problem, you implement a solution and than analyze it.
There is a direct cause and effect that can be measured.
The problem with this approach is that people often forget that policy is political, and determining the
problem in a non political way doesn’t allow it to be objective. This can lead to governments implementing
policies they know wont be effective but they do so to gain a separate objective.
1Agenda Setting: Identify the problem, what is to be addressed. Why should the government decide to
intervene. Refers to why certain issues become problems and attract the attention of governments.
2Policy Formulation: Once the problem has arisen it comes to the attention of the Ministers. Than they
investigate what the options for dealing with the problem are. How options of dealing with a problem are
formulated within government. 3Decision Making: The stage where the bill is put through the house and passes the readings than given
4Policy Implementation: The methods which government takes to put the new policy into action.
5Policy Evaluation: lecture 1 01/09/2014
advantages and disadvantages
advantages: facilitates the study of policy, contributes to theory building, can study various levels of
government, allows for identification of actors.
disadvantages: suggests a systematic approach by politicians, assumes linear progression, not universal
to all government institutions (judicatory section cant choose which problem to address, agenda setting
doesn’t apply to the courts), no causation,( no explanations for every policy, doesn’t account for linear
progression), no differentiation of policy areas (may need to adapt the policy cycle depending on which
policy area you are trying to study).
Approaches to the study of public policy.
influenced by behaviouralism (study of politics could be scientific, ability to predict behaviour), usually right
end of the political spectrum.
Propositions: all actors are selfmaximizes, rent seeking behaviour, inexorable expansions of the state,
institutions needed to control this dynamic.
public choice derives its thinking from economic theory
the application of economic thinking to the study of policy.
the basic thought is that we are all rational agents (greedy). All economic thinking is based on that idea
(supply& demand). Humans want more for less. (non state actors= rational selfmaximizes)
People seek to self maximize, this influences policy by rational behaviour. They do this by offering people
more for less during election time to receive rotes.
State actors promise you the most for less to get your vote to acquire power, not often a real chain of
progress to achieve these promises.
policy is a result of people wanting more for less and government giving you more for less, that’s what the
Rent seeking behaviour: to extract a resource from the state without contributing. When companies control
a monopoly and don’t allow the competition into the market. Politicians respond because they want the
power that comes as a result of this. This leads to the inexorable expansion of the state; the state gives
more and more programs and rents to people in order to stay in power. More noticeable close to election
Active market competition is needed in order to control this.
Shortcomings: voter apathy effects the choices politicians make because they try to catch your attention
and they use media and propaganda to influence your decision. Politicians will make policy that benefits the
select few who do vote and not worry about addressing the majority they know wont vote. lecture 1 01/09/2014
People vote for parties because of certain values and views they have that will not have a direct effect on
them (gay marriage).
the model is based on the United States because they have a two party model. Things work differently in
Canada’s multi party system.
an approach that belongs to a main view in the social sciences: debate of agency vs. structure.
some believe that you cant just look at the individual but you must access the power and choices available
to people. We don’t all make rational choices but we use our power (gender, SES, family etc.)
How you act is determined by your structures.
Usually identified by the left of the political spectrum.
Looks at who has power in society and who doesn’t, you must look outside institutions and at influence.
NeoMarxism: grounded in political economy, capitalism, policy is the result of the influence from powerful
groups, state is the most important actor, not the same as Marxism.
believes capitalism distributes wealth unequally which results in the development of very powerful groups
says that policy at the end of the day is a result of the influence of those who have money. The state is a
reflection of the powerful groups and interests in society. lecture 2 01/09/2014
main approach to the study of policy in the united states
Centrally views policy as a result of competition from the multiple groups in society.
Looks at all groups in society not just the powerful.
Reflection of competition.
Difficult for an individual to influence policy besides a persons vote, so to go beyond that people organize
with a group to interest policy.
About how these groups organize around common interests to influence society.
Policy is therefor the result of this competition.
State is seen as a repository of these demands.
Resources are important in explaining group formation.
The ability of people to acquire resources when them come together has an influence on there ability to
influence policy. More you have the more able you are to influence policy.
Forces us to look outside the state when we study policy (Who lobbied, why did the vote happen, what
resources did they have? Etc.)
Groups with limited resources can still find ways to influence policy (Scientists)
Not powerful groups are able to frame the debate.
within government we have state actors that push their own interests which pluralism doesn’t take into
In some countries (global south) policy is a result of pressure from the outside (other countries). Influenced
by international factors.
Not fitted to study systems that are very dissimilar to the United States. lecture 2 01/09/2014
when the state recognizes intermediaries groups that represent the interests of others.
society seems to work better when we divide society into functioning parts.
Views society as a body (corpus)
about how state interacts with society in the making of policy.
Focuses on patterns of behaviour (negotiation) rather than a result of competition by influence.
Policy is a result of an interaction between government state and different groups in society.
Can be argued that it is a result of violent protests (groups feel left out).
not all European countries operate under corporatism.
Undermines the influence that non corporate groups have on policy.
undermines the various relationships between parties and groups because of their social democratic
Primary role of institutions in policymaking.
institutions shape individual behaviour and choices certain people make that result in patterns of behaviour
that influence policy.
patterns of behaviour refer to informal ways in which people act that are influenced by norms.
people develop certain patterns of behaviour that are important in order to understand how they shape
Institutions are more than just formal institutions, also refer to norms and rules of behaviour.
more power given to men, organized crime are forms of informal institutions. State Weakness 01/09/2014
states in the global south tend to be weaker than those in established democracies. State Weakness 01/09/2014
the state as a central economic development.
Keynsian economics, state intervenes when there is a crisis in order to boost the economy and get out of
the crisis. Government saves during economic success and spends when in crisis. Originated from the
north and was the main idea during the 80’s.
debate between whether you let the market run its course or take the approach above during the crisis in
big state does not always equal a strong state.
Characteristics of the state
the state refers to a concept about how people should organize themselves and govern themselves.
Monopoly over the use of force.
control over territory
sovereignty (ability to self govern)
autonomy (ability of the state to operate and make and carry out decisions freely from outside interference)
countries in the global south are weak and often have a very difficult time enforcing and increasing taxation
because big players threaten to leave. Can be at many different settings.
Capabilities of the state
Regulate capacity: the ability of a state to regulate social relationships with rules and orders. (restraining
Extractive capacity: the ability to extract resources from society for its own functioning (taxation, enforced
through threat of coercion)
Penetrating Capacity: the ability to have access to all social and physical spaces. (gang territory or places
the state can not enter).
Appropriative capacity: the ability to appropriate or use resources in determined ways.
In Europe state formation happened with a negotiation between a those with power and those who are
economically active. People lost the use of violence and could therefore focus there efforts on making
money. State Weakness 01/09/2014
The state in the global south happened with the use of colonialism in order to extract resources. This
happened through a three step inter related process.
1. change in land tenure agreements.
2. change in taxation.
3. Infrastructure and transportation. (Railways)
these processes meant there was a very clear relationship between the colonial powers and the land elites,
which meant to a large unbalance in wealth and power.
states are very weak when they state because they have no autonomy or control, leads to what is called
weak state, strong society.
outside pressure is needed to break up these elites and create an active market.
state strength influences how people interact with the state.
informal institutions 01/09/2014
institutions: rules and procedures that structure social interaction by constraining and enabling actors
informal institutions: socially shared rules, usually unwritten, that are created, communicated and enforced
by outside of officially sanctioned channels.
informal institutions often carry some sort of sanction for not conforming.
corruption is often the most common example.
Why study them?
institutions shape actors incentives, expectations and behaviour.
more research on formal but informal are often more important in shaping policy process.
if we only study formal institutions we often miss what is really happening and influencing the policy
They can be either
Dysfunctional: undermine formal rules and democratic institutions, or
Functional: provide solutions where formal institutions are weak and ineffective.
often referred to as a necessary evil.
They can work in these four ways,
1. complement formal institutions; by filling in gaps
2. accommodate formal institutions; by altering the effects of formal rules without directly violating them.
(Governmental power sharing in chili.)
3. compete with formal institutions by creating alternative ones (corruption)
4. substitute for formal institutions by achieving results that the formal rules cannot. (vigilantly groups, self
defense committees to protect people like the police should but cannot) informal institutions 01/09/2014
why do they emerge?
weak state capacity, formal institutions are ineffective
ineffective civil service, weak delivery and enforcement
formal institutions lack legitimacy
poverty and inequality
limited state presence in many regions
formal institutions may not cover everything
actors may want to change the formal rules, but they can’t so they create the informal institutions
actors ant to do things that are not publicly or socially acceptable.
corruption: misuse of public power for illegitimate private gain
unofficial power arrangements
racism, sexism etc.
how does corruption affect the policy process?
may put financial gain above good policymaking informal institutions 01/09/2014
Agenda setting: can determine what gets on the agenda
policy formation: may determine options considered
decision making: can influence decisions
implementation: can affect how policy is implemented, who gets what.
relationships that involve an exchange of goods, services and/or favours in return for political support.
power status influence, loyalty, support, control
are exchanged for any of the following
security, services, tenancy, money, employment, resources
it effects policy because individuals may receive policy outcomes that are supposed to be universal in
exchange for something, but may offer solutions to people when formal institutions are ineffective and may
help the state achieve stability.
State autonomy: actors
Religion/ religious institutions
Ideas can influence what is identified as a problem
A desire to reverse these effects can also generate policy Institutions and Bureaucracy in Policymaking 01/09/2014
the state has autonomy and capacity, within this there are a variety of institutions and in order for these to
function properly and create a strong state they must have autonomy. Institutions and Bureaucracy in Policymaking 01/09/2014
in the global south states tend to be weaker in both there autonomy and there capacity.
to study this you must look at the impact of nonstate actors.
main actor in the policy process, role it plays varies depends on institutional design (clear definition of
powers, fusion etc.)
In Canada it is the cabinet
tends to set the agenda in most cases (speech of the throne)
in the global south the executive tends to have more power than elsewhere and creates a concentration of
this allows presidents to bypass legislative stage in certain scenarios.
Sources of power:
ability to bypass legislatures
administrative powers: ability of presidents to appoint people to positions in power which will in turn have
an impact on policy, clientialistic ties.
corporatist relations: personal negotiations between people in power through corporatism which makes it
much more personal than negotiating through say congress.
Special relation with security forces: Development of very close relationships which give the president lots
of power over the military.
The expertise advantage: the ability of the president to hire the top policy analysis’s and take all the best
minds to the presidents side. In Canada this is the Privy council office and is neopartisan. More expertise
equals more power.
regulatory powers: refers to what we call secondary regulations, in countries on the global south the
presidents office has the power to draft regulations on a bill once it has been signed off on. Can delay of
tweak the law to change the laws impact.
The Legislature Institutions and Bureaucracy in Policymaking 01/09/2014
House of commons and the senate
roles are to 1.) pass bills 2.) represent voters 3.) provide executive opposition.
weak because the lopsided relationship it has with the executive.
limited resources to inordinate or influence. Totally overwhelmed and don’t have the manpower to compete
with the government.
urban votes often mean less than rural votes. In countries of the global south this is very present. Land
executives have a great influence due to their ability to sway votes.
the legislative is where people are often sent in order to earn patronage and spoil the process.
key institution in several areas of policy making.
often slow but this red tape is what weber calls a perfect bureaucracy because they are supposed to be
autonomous and work according to their own standards and guidelines.
this is the policy implementation stage.
can influence policy by collecting data and influencing policy with official data.
they are given security of tenure and resources in order to carry out the legislation with autonomy.
in the global south they don’t have this security because in order to save resources they often just cut jobs
losing the expertise and autonomy.
Grease money: money that speeds up the bureaucracy for a service that is often slow.
Corruption money to the street bureaucrats to turn a blind eye.
Clientelism inequality and policy making 01/09/2014
more inequality you have the more it shapes policy making. More unequal the society the harder it is to
inequality fosters clientelism because the basis of clientelism is the relationship between people without
power and people with power.
shapes public opinion in a way that depoliticizes solutions, politicians aim policy at the median group to
maximize the number of votes they receive and therefore inequality never makes the agenda setting.
reduces access to policy process.
Participation in policy making
need to open up the process, bottom up approach
result of an ideological convergence, technocratic approach (convergence of two views) to improve
efficiency. By including people they will tell you what they need the most and avoid further disenfranchising
Nonstate actors foster community development
the result of bringing people together has resulted in institutions that have been strongly successful and
have positive repercussions (voter turnout, vested interest), examples of this are participatory councils,
budgeting and India’s EAS.
Conditional cash transfers
renewed faith in the role of the state in the alleviation of poverty.
direct cash transfers that are given to people if they qualify.
Poorest of the poor (very tough with large informal economy)
government surveys determine based on classifications and requirements met
started in Mexico, now almost every country in the global south has a CCT program.
they determine how poor someone is based upon how they live.
past experiences forces policy makers to adopt measures to guarantee implementation. Legislation open
to transparency, oversight in centralized institutions, means of delivery (major problem in the global south),
oversight by civilsociety organizations (NGO’s).
informal institutions are very flexible and continue to find ways to influence policy
challenges in awarding monitoring companies.
enhances the power of service providers, allows the ability for informal institutions to penetrate into the
electoral manipulation (public choice theory), removing of these programs would be political
suicide and create an irreplaceable program. inequality and policy making 01/09/2014 Civil Society & social movements 01/09/2014
civil society: web of autonomous associations that are independent from the state which bring citizens
together by a collective interest that when together can have an effect on policy. Neither the state of the
family but in between.
may consist of social movements (seen as outside the state), ngo’s or different types of associations.
Often seen as a sign of a healthy democracy.
often seen as a separate sphere, there is however some fluidity and the boundaries are not always rigid.
social movement is contentious performances displays and campaigns through which individuals and
groups can make demands and pursue common objectives. A deliberate collective endeavor to promote or
organizations are essential to social movements but the latter should not be confused with the former. The
movement is much broader where as the organizations are very specific.
example is the occupy wall street movement, most say it failed because it didn’t want to create a social
the outcomes they seek can be of any nature, progression (policy change) reform (laws values etc.) radical
(fundamental change to system of values) or conservative(preserve preexisting policies values).
Types: prior to the 60’s they tended to focus on class and redistribution (wealth, land etc.). 60’s onward was
new social movements, environmentalism/ ethnicbased/ woman’s rights. 90’s onwards was a combination
of both identity and classbased issues (fair tra