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Deliberative policy analysis: What are its conditions of possibility?

Hendrik Wagenaar, University of Sheffield

Tue 11 April 2017

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


In the Introduction to our book Deliberative Policy Analysis Maarten Hajer and I posed the question: What kind of policy analysis might be relevant to understanding governance in the emerging network society. Our answer was: a policy analysis that is interpretive, practice-oriented, and deliberative.  Although I do not claim that DPA has become a school or a household term, the different elements we listed have separately all made great strides in policy analysis in the past 15 years. Interpretive policy analysis has its own journal, conferences and sections in academic organizations; practice theory in policy analysis has taken off and diversified, and deliberation as a policy-analytic approach can be found in ideals of action research and co-producing research with stakeholders. But is DPA possible as an integrated package? To obtain an answer to this question I want to discuss a case of failed DPA: my three-year international comparative study of prostitution policy in the Netherlands and Austria. We tried to apply the full package. Over a period of four years, the study was developed and executed in close cooperation with local policy makers, had a strong interpretive component, zoomed in on administrative practices, yet it ended – at least on the Dutch side – in conflict and acrimony. I would like to use the seminar to explore what went wrong and if we can identify the conditions for successful DPA in real-word policy settings.

About the speaker

Hendrik Wagenaar is professor at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. He is also Associate Director of the Crick Centre for Understanding Politics at that university. He publishes in the areas of participatory democracy, prostitution policy, interpretive policy analysis and practice theory. He is author of Meaning in Action: Interpretation and Dialogue in Policy Analysis (M.E. Sharpe, 2011), and co-editor of Practices of Freedom: Decentered Governance, Conflict and Democratic Participation (Cambridge University Press, 2014) He is member of the core group, and one of the chairs of Working Group 1 (Policy and Politics) of the COST Action: ‘Comparing European Prostitution Policies’. His book Designing Prostitution Policy: Intention and Reality in Regulating the Sex Trade (with Helga Amesberger and Sietske Altink) will be published by Policy Press in April 2017.

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