Ulrich Hamenstädt/Stephan Engelkamp

On the notion of time in comparative policy analysis: two theoretical perspectives.

(Ulrich Hamenstädt and Stephan Engelkamp)




Our paper discusses two ways of enquiring governmental rationality in policy analysis. It uses the case of the more recent reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy reform to illustrate the respective merits and pitfalls of two different theoretical perspectives. From the perspective of a rationalist research program (1), this challenge can be framed in terms of a policy coordination problem. In this approach, political actors operate on the basis of short-term time horizons. However, long-term policy goals frequently necessitate short-term action. Short-term political and societal costs often can only be linked to long-term and partly uncertain effects. Moreover, taking the long-term perspective is even more important in order to trace how the choice of a particular policy or institutional design may entail unintended consequences that have not been foreseen by rationally calculating policy-makers. Scholars more inspired by a Foucauldian approach on governmentality (2) scrutinize how governmental rationalities emerge, bringing about new forms of steering society that often complement, sometimes compete with and at times even contradict more traditional ways of governing. The focus is here not on specific state or non-state actors, but on the role of the technologies of government and their possibly de-politicizing effects. Our paper puts particular emphasis on Foucault’s concept of the security dispositive as a much neglected concept in more recent research on new modes of governance.


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Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis – Workshop 2014