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The dynamics of policy formation: making sense of feelings of public unsafety
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8695-4504
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Every policy problem has inherent value dimensions. It is on the basis of values that a state of affairs is perceived as undesirable, and thus acknowledged as a problem. This makes the process of defining and negotiating the meaning of a problem an essentially political process. Despite this, bureaucracy and expertise have a strong, if not increasing, influence over the formation of policy problems. An objectivist knowledge view predominates within the public managerial realm, which obscures the political dimension of problem formulation, while policy problems tend to be approached as a matter of efficiency.

This thesis provides an account of mechanisms that shape and constrain the way a particular policy problem is understood and addressed. It analyses how policy actors make sense of particular problems, by drawing on different discourses (scientific, institutional, popular or media). The empirical case of this thesis is the formation of public safety policy in Sweden. The understanding of the problem of unsafety within Swedish policy is shown to be intrinsically related to the research field of fear of crime. The two are mutually dependent and exert an ideational path dependency. The ideational constraints on the understanding of unsafety are further affected by the institutional setting. It is argued that the appointed institutions and the emphasis on local level have a part in fostering individualist explanations and solutions,while obviating structural interpretations of the problem.

The thesis finds that when governing complex policy problems there is a need to pay closer attention to how the problem is defined and how its meaning is constrained. It is crucial to make transparent the values inherent in definitions of problems as well as in research claims. By acknowledging the entwinement of policy and research the policy formation process may become characterized by greater reflexivity, and the possibility of resolving wicked problems may enlarge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university , 2014. , 99 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Political Science, ISSN 1650-1632 ; 36
Keyword [en]
Policy formation, wicked problems, sensemaking, safety, unsafety, fear of crime, policy change, discourse, ideas, interpretive, policy transfer
National Category
Political Science Public Administration Studies
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-35087ISBN: 978-91-7529-037-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-35087DiVA: diva2:718148
Public defence
2014-09-19, Forumhuset, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-20 Created: 2014-05-20 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Community safety policies in Sweden: a policy change in crime control strategies?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Community safety policies in Sweden: a policy change in crime control strategies?
2012 (English)In: International Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 0190-0692, E-ISSN 1532-4265, Vol. 35, no 5, 293-302 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Internationally, there has been a general trend towards crime prevention and community safety measures. The main policy ideas and instruments associated with this trend have spread widely in Western countries. This article examines the Swedish national crime prevention policy. As Sweden is a welfare society with a long tradition of social crime prevention, it is of great interest to explore to what extent the aforementioned trend has influenced its crime prevention policy. We do this by examining Sweden’s national policy and how its concepts have spread to the local level—specifically, to municipalities and their local crime prevention councils. We find that there has been a preventive shift in Sweden, although not as far-reaching as in many other European countries. Substantial changes have occurred in the understanding and direction of crime prevention work, and the question is to what extent this development will continue.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2012
Keyword
crime prevention, community safety, preventive turn, policy convergence, Sweden
National Category
Sociology Political Science
Research subject
Sociology; Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-24083 (URN)10.1080/01900692.2011.646084 (DOI)2-s2.0-84859879717 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2012-07-12 Created: 2012-07-12 Last updated: 2017-10-13Bibliographically approved
2. Local sensemaking of policy paradoxes: implementing local crime prevention in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local sensemaking of policy paradoxes: implementing local crime prevention in Sweden
2012 (English)In: Public Organization Review, ISSN 1566-7170, E-ISSN 1573-7098, Vol. 13, no 1, 1-20 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper analyses the policy implementation of local crime prevention and community safety programmes in Sweden. It focuses on the clash between the transnational idea-complex and the national context, i.e. the unavoidable policy paradoxes of a transnational idea diffusion, and how they are made sense of when handled at local level. In particular, it emphasizes how actors in socioeconomically different local contexts within the same urban area have partly different reasons and motives for implementation. By using a sensemaking approach, this article contributes to the understanding of how convergence at national level is followed by divergence at local level.

National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-32441 (URN)10.1007/s11115-012-0181-z (DOI)
Available from: 2013-11-18 Created: 2013-11-18 Last updated: 2017-10-13Bibliographically approved
3. A policy problem that cannot escape its past: constraints on the reformation of safety policy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A policy problem that cannot escape its past: constraints on the reformation of safety policy
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Within many current policy theories there is a tendency to first identify change and then explain it. A retrospective analysis of policy changes risks missing continuous processes and struggles for change as well as mechanisms of resistance to change. Taking this as a point of departure, this paper develops an understanding of the policy process as a struggle over meaning, as a way to allow for a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of policy change and continuity. This approach is illustrated by an analysis of the formation of public safety policy in Sweden. Alternative storylines giving ‘new’ meanings to the policy problem were strategically incorporated into the policy discourse. However, it is found that an ideational path-dependency of the policy constrains the possibility for problem reformulation and thereby also the possibility for policy change. The discourses that instantiated the policy problem affect the ways in which the problem is rendered thinkable for the purposes of its government, but also for policy analysts as well as the public. The analysis shows that it is crucial to understand the interrelations between different discourses (within policy, politics and research) to understand the mechanisms of policy change and continuity.

Keyword
policy, process, public safety, sweden, politics, research
National Category
Public Administration Studies
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-37714 (URN)
Available from: 2014-10-14 Created: 2014-10-14 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
4. The relative importance of institutional trust in countering feelings of unsafety in disadvantaged neighbourhoods
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The relative importance of institutional trust in countering feelings of unsafety in disadvantaged neighbourhoods
2013 (English)In: European Spatial Research and Policy, ISSN 1896-1525, Vol. 20, no 1, 73-95 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The segregated nature of urban areas reflects an uneven exposure to risk and unsafety. This article analyzes the relevance of place to people’s feelings of unsafety by comparing questionnaire responses from people living in a segregated, disadvantaged neighbourhood to a random sample of people living in the same city. The results suggest that the central factors explaining the individual’s feelings of unsafety differ in this particular neighbourhood compared to the broader population. The article shows that place has a moderating effect on feelings of unsafety. Trust in public institutions is argued to be particularly important in segregated, disadvantaged neighbourhoods because of its potential to prevent feelings of unsafety.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
De Gruyter Open, 2013
Keyword
feelings of unsafety, trust, moderation, segregation
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-32440 (URN)10.2478/esrp-2013-0004 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-11-18 Created: 2013-11-18 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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