T10P04 - Methodological Challenges for Policy Elites Analysis

Topic : Methodologies

Panel Chair : Patrick Hassenteufel - patrick.hassenteufel@me.com

Panel Second Chair : william Genieys - william.genieys@umontpellier.fr

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

The sociology of elites has generally focused on the analysis of economic and political elites, characterized as part of a ‘power elite’ (Domhoff, 1990) or a ‘shadow elite’ (Wedel, 2009) without directly taking into account their concrete role in the elaboration of public policies. At the same time, actor-centered policy studies rarely make systematic use of the methods developed by elite sociology (analyzing sociological backgrounds, training and careers, position, reputation…). Actor-centered approaches to public policy are less interested in the formation of policy elites than in the specific characteristics of individual ‘policy entrepreneurs’ (Kingdon, 1984) or political leaders, and in the formation of broader policy networks and advocacy coalitions, including organized groups.

 

The aim of this panel is to pave the way for a methodological approach integrating the tools of the sociology of elites with those focused on the specific policy role of limited groups of actors. Narrow groups of actors can only be characterized as policy elites if it is possible to demonstrate not only their homogeneity, common traits (sociological and/or educational) and shared policy orientations, but also their effective contribution to the formulation of policy problems and solution and their implication and impact on the decision process, as shown by their capacity to steer and control policy implementation, such as in case studies on health and social policies (Hassenteufel and al., 2010; Genieys, Hassenteufel, 2015). Other challenges of the analysis of policy elites are the time dimension – a policy elite is a group that has a strong influence on a policy domain over one policy decision in a longer time period – and the power struggles in which these groups of actors are engaged (Genieys, Smyrl, 2008).

 

In this context, we are interested in papers combining

.The use of the methodological tools drawn from the sociology of elites such as:

-analysis of sociological backgrounds

-analysis of educational and occupational backgrounds (in order to study the specialized skill learning process in a policy domain and the accumulation of different kind of relevant resources)

-positional analysis (in long period)

-network analysis (to grasp the interpersonal relations)

 

.With the use of methods allowing analysis of the policy role of actors in a diachronic perspective, especially:

-cognitive analysis

-discourse analysis

-policy process analysis.

 

The papers included in this panel can study policy elites in any policy domain, at every level (local, national, international…) and in every kind of political regime and do not need to combine all of these methodological tools. Empirical case studies are welcome as are more general papers tackling these methodological and theoretical issues in a broader perspective.

Call for papers

The aim of this panel is to pave the way for a methodological approach integrating the tools of the sociology of elites with those focused on the specific policy role of limited groups of actors. Narrow groups of actors can only be characterized as policy elites if it is possible to demonstrate not only their homogeneity, common traits (sociological and/or educational) and shared policy orientations, but also their effective contribution to the formulation of policy problems and solution and their implication and impact on the decision process, as shown by their capacity to steer and control policy implementation, such as in case studies on health and social policies (Hassenteufel and al., 2010; Genieys, Hassenteufel, 2015). Other challenges of the analysis of policy elites are the time dimension – a policy elite is a group that has a strong influence on a policy domain over one policy decision in a longer time period – and the power struggles in which these groups of actors are engaged (Genieys, Smyrl, 2008).

 

In this context, we are interested in papers combining

.The use of the methodological tools drawn from the sociology of elites such as:

-analysis of sociological backgrounds

-analysis of educational and occupational backgrounds (in order to study the specialized skill learning process in a policy domain and the accumulation of different kind of relevant resources)

-positional analysis (in long period)

-network analysis (to grasp the interpersonal relations)

 

.With the use of methods allowing analysis of the policy role of actors in a diachronic perspective, especially:

-cognitive analysis

-discourse analysis

-policy process analysis.

 

The papers included in this panel can study policy elites in any policy domain, at every level (local, national, international…) and in every kind of political regime and do not need to combine all of these methodological tools.

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