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The Politics of Meaning Struggles (2022)

(Publisher : Edward Elgar Publishing)

Author(s) : Philippe Zittoun, Sébastien Chailleux

Philippe Zittoun, Research Professor, LAET-ENTPE, University of Lyon

Sébastien Chailleux, Associate Professor, Centre Emile Durkheim, Sciences Po Bordeaux, France

Abstract

Working to demystify the enigmatic process behind unexpected policymaking, this important book proposes to understand the significance of meaning struggles and the uncertainty provoked by the multiple pressures in governmental decision making. Using the French case, where the government shifted position 3 times before banning hydraulic fracturing, The Politics of Meaning Struggles addresses the wider phenomenon of governmental shifts in policy decisions through a new perspective, a pragmatist constructivism approach.
This controversial governmental U-turn is thoroughly analysed through the meticulous reconstitution of multiple debates which took place not only in the public arena but also in the privacy of government. Based on 3 years of investigation and 52 lengthy qualitative interviews across the hierarchical levels of the bureaucracy including former ministers, and through exclusive access to the archive of Prime Minister, the authors allow us to better understand the complexity and uncertainty in the policy process, which has yet to be explained by classical theories, frameworks and concepts. It builds from the oversights of existing policy approaches to create a more comprehensive understanding as to why State decisions, pressured by power struggles and mutating proposals, are never written in advance. 
Working towards gaining a better grasp of the complexity and diversity of public policies, this insightful book will be invaluable to public policy students and scholars. It will also be particularly useful to policy makers working within the gas industry and wider governmental roles that involve policy and decision making. 

Book Review

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