Bringing politics and administration together: for an agonistic policy model

Fortis, M.F.D.A. 2014. Bringing politics and administration together: for an agonistic policy model. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

TitleBringing politics and administration together: for an agonistic policy model
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsFortis, M.F.D.A.

This thesis offers a new answer for an old question. Since the inception of public policy and administrative studies, the field has grappled with the problem of how to define the relationship between politics and administration. An examination of the policy literature suggests the existence of two major views: disjunctive and integrative. On one hand, those scholars who favour a disjunctive view construe politics and administration as mutually exclusive spheres. In this case, the study of policy and administration tends to emphasize the technical aspects and ignore the political factors. On the other hand, theorists who embrace an integrative view suggest that administration is fundamentally a political activity. Expanding the focus beyond managerial concerns, integrative scholars argue that public policies should not be confined to technocratic styles of policy-making that inhibit citizen engagement and depoliticize the public sphere. In spite of their commendable attention to politics, however, integrative theorists (particularly those embracing an interpretive orientation or a deliberative approach) have not yet been able to convincingly delineate a policy model that fully recognizes the political. The key argument of this thesis is that an agonistic vision has a strong potential to think politics and administration together that has not yet been considered by contemporary policy scholarship. Drawing on the work of Chantal Mouffe, the

Agonistic Policy Model (APM) proposed here attempts to fill an important gap in the literature. Although agonistic theories have been widely recognized in the academic discipline of political science, they have not yet been translated into an implementable policy model. It is argued that an APM elucidates how politics and administration can be construed as interdependent spheres, thus offering a solution that helps to envisage how the political can be properly integrated into public policy and administration. In addition, besides an original interpretation of the policy process, the APM provides an innovative way of thinking how policy-making can contribute to deepen democratic values and institutions.

KeywordsAgonism, Mouffe, public policy, conflict, democracy
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