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Dismantling Public Policy? Social and environmental policy in a period of austerity
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Dismantling Public Policy? Social and environmental policy in a period of austerity

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In this public lecture, Andy Jordan offered a more comparative approach to understanding policy dismantling, by looking in greater detail at the dynamics of cutting in two different policy fields: one ...

In this public lecture, Andy Jordan offered a more comparative approach to understanding policy dismantling, by looking in greater detail at the dynamics of cutting in two different policy fields: one (social policy) which has been subjected to study before and the other (environmental policy) which has not. Andy examined what motivates politicians to dismantle, the strategies they employ to dismantle, and the effects these have on policy and politics.

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  • Despite the many important advances that have been made in public policy research (see for recent contributions Häussermann 2010, Mettler 2011, Jacobs 2011), as scholars we still know far less about dismantling – its causes, its patterns and its unfolding political consequences – than we do about its opposite – policy expansion . Indeed, many textbooks on public policy have virtually nothing to say about dismantling. 'Dismantling Public Policy? Social and environmental policy in a period of austerity”
  • Despite the many important advances that have been made in public policy research (see for recent contributions Häussermann 2010, Mettler 2011, Jacobs 2011), as scholars we still know far less about dismantling – its causes, its patterns and its unfolding political consequences – than we do about its opposite – policy expansion . Indeed, many textbooks on public policy have virtually nothing to say about dismantling. 'Dismantling Public Policy? Social and environmental policy in a period of austerity”
  • Prospect theory + Policy feedback But without research which focuses on other policy sectors , we are not really in a position to conclude that this assertion is applicable to more or even all policy areas (and thus can be absorbed into a general account of policy dynamics), or if it is only really applicable to the field of social policy (and chiefly the welfare state).
  • Section 9.2 reminds us of the challenges that had to be overcome in our pursuit of a more comparative approach, chiefly in terms of the need to develop definitions, measures and categorizations of dismantling that ‘travel’ (Peters 1998) more easily between policy fields.
  • 1. the greatest effects, measured first and foremost in terms of alterations in policy outputs, were revealed in changes in policy intensity, not policy density he only clear case of change in policy density was to be found in relation to child benefits (Chapter 5) (where the reductions in policy and instrument density were characterised as a kind of policy “evaporation”). Of the six cases, this provided the closest – but by no means a perfect - approximation to “complete” policy termination, i.e. the dismantling of both policy density and intensity. 2. The clearest examples of reductions in policy intensity are to be found in the pensions (Chapter 3) and child benefits (Chapter 5) cases. The study of social benefits – and specifically the indexation of unemployment benefits (Chapter 6) - also revealed remarkable dismantling had taken place in terms of reduced policy intensity, even in a country such as Sweden where the welfare state has generally been assumed to be resilient, backed by unions and other significant policy takers. significant reductions in policy intensity were very much the exception not the rule; a finding which echoes some of the early claims made in the welfare state retrenchment literature, as well as subsequent work on the politics of loss imposition (Pal and Weaver 2003: 328). his is noteworthy because our cases extend beyond social policy to environmental policy, where in principle we might expect to find more examples of politicians dismantling to ‘claim credit’ by helping powerful actors to lower their regulatory costs. It is also noteworthy because all six cases were selected on the grounds that dismantling appeared to be taking place 3. The other aspect of policy intensity, that is formal intensity, appeared to have been mostly unchanged across all the cases. 4. Finally, not all the cases exhibited a consistent pattern of change in intensity – there were some interesting examples of little or no overall change (for example waste) and even some policy expansion (e.g. pensions in Switzerland – albeit part of a wider compensatory deal to win around opponents). 4. On balance, therefore, we can cautiously conclude that our output-focused empirical scheme proved capable of measuring policy dismantling across a mixture of policy areas and jurisdictions.
  • This and the following illustrations depict the sum of policy changes per year and context (i.e. UK vs. the complete sample). The dark shaded areas refer to policy dismantling, while the light areas designate policy expansion. „ Policy change“ implies all instances of change of any direction, covering both policy density (i.e. items and instruments) and policy intensity/stringency (i.e. level and scope). It is interesting to note in this context, that we observe hardly any dismantling in the environmental policy subfields. This is not only true for the UK but also for the OECD sample in general. In contrast, dismantling in social policy is much more common, even though apparently the UK does not feature among the top-dismantlers (compare the shares of expansion and dismantling in social policy for the UK and the OECD sample).
  • In the slides that Sophie sent you yesterday density and intensity are combined. I now send you two additional slides in which they are separated again for the purpose of showing that intensity changes occur more often than density changes. This holds true for both policy fields, but it is clearly more extreme in the case of social policy change. These graphs show the data broken down for changes in environmental policy for density and intensity. As the y-axis shows, the number of intensity changes are greater than density changes. This is even more drastic in the case of social policy change as illustrated by the next slide.
  • These graphs show the data broken down for changes in social policy for density and intensity. Please not the different scales of the y-axis for density and intensity changes...the difference is quite remarkly in the case of child benefits in particular.

Dismantling Public Policy? Social and environmental policy in a period of austerity Dismantling Public Policy? Social and environmental policy in a period of austerity Presentation Transcript

  • Dismantling Public Policy: Socialand Environmental Policy inPeriods of AusterityAndrew Jordana.jordan@uea.ac.uk‘CONSENSUS’ project
  • Benson, D. and A.J. Jordan (2012) Environmental Policy. In: Cini, M. and N. Perez-Solorzano Borragan (eds.) European Union Politics (4e). Oxford University Press:Oxford., pp 325-337.
  • Townsend, T. et al. (2013) How national legislation can help to solve climate change.Nature Climate Change, 3, May, 430-432. View slide
  • Pierson, P. (2011) The welfare state over the long run. ZeS-working paper, 2-2011,University of Bremen. View slide
  • http://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/3348/sticky-red-tape/
  • Dismantling Public Policy: Socialand Environmental Policy inPeriods of AusterityAndrew Jordana.jordan@uea.ac.uk‘CONSENSUS’ project
  • ‘Conventional wisdom’• Dismantling mostly occurs in ‘hard times’• Dismantling is dominated by ‘the politics ofless’ (loss/pain imposition)• Dismantling is politically difficult (treacherouseven?)• Dismantling is all about blame avoidance• Dismantling is a different kind of politics…• … Which requires different analyticalapproaches
  • The welfare state wasbattered but essentially“remains intact” (page 5);
  • Two approaches• Qualitative case studies: of known or ‘mostlikely’ dismantling events (six in total – 3 socialvs. 3 environmental) → “hypothesisgenerating”• Quantitative analysis of changes in policy (25OECD countries, 30 years, 75 policy items,social vs. env. policy) → “hypothesis testing”
  • Role of policy typePolicy type Policy expansion PolicyDismantlingDistributive Costs diffuse;benefits conc.Costs conc;benefits diffuseRegulatory Costs conc;benefits diffuseCosts diffuse;benefits conc.
  • Role of policy typePolicy type Policy expansion PolicyDismantlingDistributive Costs diffuse;benefits conc.Credit claimingCosts conc;benefits diffuseBlame avoidanceRegulatory Costs conc;benefits diffuseBlame avoidanceCosts diffuse;benefits conc.Credit claiming
  • Analytical ‘travelling’ problems• No shared terminology: retrenchment,termination, deregulation etc (dismantling)• Dependent variable problem (outputs)• Which aspect of ‘policy’ (presence,instruments, setting)• ‘Multi-dimensionality’ of change (basket ofindicators)
  • Dimensions and IndicatorsDimension Indicators (andexplanation)Policy Density Policy Density Change in the number ofpolicies over timeInstrument Density Change in the number ofinstruments over timePolicy Intensity Substantial Intensity Instrument settings: scopeand stringencyFormal Intensity Enforcement capacitiesAdministrative capacitiesProcedural capacities
  • Measurement of policy expansionand dismantlingPolicy dimension Policy expansion PolicydismantlingPolicy presence New policy isadded to existingonesExisting policy isabolishedPolicyinstrumentsNumber ofinstrumentsincreasesNumber ofinstrumentsdecreasesSetting of policyinstrumentsTightening ofregulatory levelsLoosening ofregulatory level
  • Preferences• politicians perceive that the benefits (to them)of dismantling are greater than the costs →active and revealed dismantling• the costs of the status quo (i.e. notdismantling) are perceived to be greater thanthe costs of dismantling → passive and hiddendismantling
  • Preferences• politicians perceive that the benefits (to them)of dismantling are greater than the costs →active and revealed dismantling• the costs of the status quo (i.e. notdismantling) are perceived to be greater thanthe costs of dismantling → passive and hiddendismantling
  • RevealHideActivePassive
  • RevealHideActivePassiveSYMBOLIC: letsplay for time….ACTIVE: lets cut!DEFAULT:benign neglect(death by athousand cuts)ARENA SHIFTING:lets blamesomeone else(scapegoating)
  • Definition of policy dismantling“a change of a direct, indirect, hidden orsymbolic nature that either diminishes thenumber of policies in a particular area,reduces the number of policy instruments usedand/or lowers their intensity. It can involvechanges to these core elements of policyand/or it can be achieved by manipulating thecapacities to implement and supervise them.”
  • Dismantling Strategies: ExpectedEffectsDismantling Type EffectsBy Default Non adjustment of substantial intensityArena Shifting Transfer/Delegation of responsibilitiesSymbolic Action Announcement of a reduction in policydensity or intensity; relabeling policies;commissioning reportsActive Dismantling Reduction in policy density: abolition ofpolicies/instruments; reduction inintensity
  • Ch no./case Policy density InstrumentdensitySubstantialintensityFormalintensityPensions No No Yes NoAir pollution No No Yes YesChild benefits No Yes Yes YesSocialbenefitsNo No Yes NoWaste No No No NoWater No No No No
  • Role of policy typePolicy type Policy expansion PolicyDismantlingDistributive Costs diffuse;benefits conc.Credit claimingCosts conc;benefits diffuseBlame avoidanceRegulatory Costs conc;benefits diffuseBlame avoidanceCosts diffuse;benefits conc.Credit claiming
  • Two approaches• Qualitative case studies: of known or ‘mostlikely’ dismantling events (six in total – 3 socialvs. 3 environmental) → “hypothesisgenerating”• Quantitative analysis of changes in policy (25OECD countries, 30 years, 75 policy items,social vs. env. policy) → “hypothesis testing”
  • Environmental policy I
  • Social policy I
  • Environmental policy II
  • Social policy II
  • Conclusions• Dismantling happens… and not just in ‘austeretimes’• Not just social policy…• Dismantling is ‘multi-dimensional’• Intensity seems to change more than density• Env policy – strategies are moreopen/revealed cf social policy• Moving beyond the social policy ‘niche’ area –broader policy theory
  • Seeing the wood for the trees: ‘frozen landscape’ or ‘maginot line’?
  • New directions• Investigating ‘deviant’ cases qualitatively?• Investigating policy sub-types• Working across other policy areas?• Polity focused categories?• Moving beyond policy outputs to policyimpacts and outcomes• Post-adoption (‘innovation’) dynamics
  • Bauer, M., A.J. Jordan, C. Green-Pedersen and A. Héritier (eds.)(2012) Dismantling Public Policy:Preferences, Strategies and Effects.Oxford University Press: Oxford
  • Further readingC. Knill, S. Schmitt, K. Schulze and J. Tosun (eds.) (2013)Social and Environmental Policy Under EconomicPressure. Cambridge University Press.Bauer, M., Jordan, A.J. and C. Green-Pedersen (2013)Dismantling Public Policy: Preferences, Strategiesand Effects. Journal of European Public Policy, 20, 5,(in press).