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The Political process of policymaking (2014)

(Publisher : Palgrave-McMillan)

Author(s) : Philippe Zittoun

Philippe Zittoun is Research Professor of Political Science at LAET-ENTPE, University of Lyon, France. He is General Secretary of IPPA and Chair of the IPSA 'Public Policy' Research Committee. He is also a member of the editorial board of several international journals such as Critical Policy Studies, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Plicy Studies Journal, Policy and Society. His research focuses on understanding the policymaking process and, in particular, on the importance of discursive struggles, argumentative strategies, political aspects and the role of actors.


His last books: 

  • Halpern Charlotte, Hassentefeul Patrick, Zittoun Philippe (forthcoming), Policy Analysis in France, Policy Press
  • Peters Guy, Zittoun Philippe (ded) (2016), Contemporary approaches to public policy, Palgrave-Mc Millan
  • Zittoun Philippe (2013), la fabrique politique des politiques publiques, une approche pragmatique de l’action publique, Presses de Science Po
  • Zittoun Philippe (dir.) (2009), Les indicateurs : boussoles ou miroirs déformants pour l’action publique ?, Paris, PUCA coll. Recherches


Far from being defenceless when faced with inextricable problems such as inequality, unemployment, poverty, precarious situations or global warming, governments continuously increase the policy proposals for new action, reforms or transformation. Nevertheless, their inability to solve problems, which is occasionally penalised by democratic voting or by changeovers, never challenges the political system itself. To understand this astonishing political stability within a disordered world, Philippe Zittoun looks at the 'policymaking process' as a political activity which defines, propagates and imposes public policy proposals as a means to 'restore order' within society. Based on a significant study as well as on surveys carried out at the heart of the policymaking process, this innovative approach to public policy leads us to identify policymakers as true modern Sisyphuses.

Table of contents

  1. Creating Social Disorder: Constructing, Propagating and Policitising Social Problems
  2. Defining Solution: A Complex Bricolage to Solve Public Problems
  3. Propagating Solution: Argumentative Strategies to Cement Coalitions
  4. Policy Statements to Legitimise “Decision-Makers”
  5. Conclusion: How Public Policy Shapes Politics


Bibliographic Information



"Despite much lip-service given to the need to understand the profoundly political nature of public policies, there is a distinct tendency in many studies to address the subject in a mechanical way, treating the definition of policy goals and the articulation of the means to achieve them as technical issues subject to a precise instrumental logic and rationality. This excellent volume by Philippe Zittoun avoids this error and takes on the analysis of the political construction of public policy head-on. It develops and refines key definitions and methods for thepolitical analysis of public policy-making, from problem construction to solution 'bricolage' and the development and analysis of the argumentative strategies used to propagate solutions and legitimize

them. This is essential reading for all students of policy-making."

Michael Howlett, Burnaby Mountain Chair, Simon Fraser University, Canada


"All too often politics is underplayed in the analysis of the policy process. In The Political Process of Policymaking Professor Zittoun offers a refreshing corrective to this neglect. He is also to be commended for his attention of the role the political construction of policy objects and events, as well as his examination of the role of communication and argumentation as they play out across the policy process as a whole, from agenda-setting to evaluation. Not least important is the fact that the book opens the way to a much needed and long overdue exchange between policy scholars in the English and French speaking worlds. This is by all accounts a seminar service to the field."

Frank Fischer, Professor of Politics and Global Affairs, Rutgers University, USA


"Philippe Zittoun's book provides an excellent discussion of policymaking in France, and the interactions among levels of government within that political system. This is not, however, just a book on France but provides insights into more general theoretical and analytic questions about public policy."

B. Guy Peters, Maurice Falk Professor of Government, University of Pittsburgh, USA


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