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Democracy and ExpertiseReorienting Policy Inquiry$
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Frank Fischer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282838

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282838.001.0001

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Public Policy as Social Construct: Multiple Meanings in Sustainable Development

Public Policy as Social Construct: Multiple Meanings in Sustainable Development

Chapter:
(p.168) 6 Public Policy as Social Construct: Multiple Meanings in Sustainable Development
Source:
Democracy and Expertise
Author(s):

Frank Fischer (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282838.003.0007

This chapter demonstrates the ways in which policy is more fundamentally a sociopolitical construct than technical/instrumental tool, as it is approached in much of policy science. Employing a constructivist sociology of knowledge, the discussion illustrates the ways in which a policy is a product of multiple realities and, as such, is as much a matter for interpretive analysis as it is techno-empirical assessment. To clarify the theoretical position, the second half of the chapter demonstrates the point through the political struggle over sustainable development in environmental policy. Beyond technical knowledge, the case points to how policies are socially experienced — in particular, how they supply citizens with the social sense of collective participation in mutual ventures with fellow members of their own communities.

Keywords:   sociology of knowledge, multiple realities, policy assumptions, politics of meaning, interpretive analysis, sustainable development, environmental politics, co-production, collaborative inquiry

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