“windows of opportunity” and “policy frames”

The question of the relationship between “windows of opportunity” and “policy frames” is an especially interesting one, because by answering it one has to bridge the difference between two perspectives on the policy process.

One the one hand, windows of opportunity suggests a chronological dimension of the policy process, whereby different institutional events and circumstances coincide to open the window (Kingdon’s “streams”) that stays open until the establishing circumstances change.

On the other hand, policy frames are cognitive constructions that can or cannot come into being in relation to real-life circumstances, but refer to a certain interpretation of reality that as such is stable over time. Thus, a frame can be preserved even if the circumstances that triggered its construction change.

Taken together the following relationship between both terms is adequate:

Whereas windows of opportunity offer the chance to use a certain policy solution/concept in order to solve a problem in a particular time und specific circumstances, policy frames are a lasting argumentative windows that interprets reality in favour of certain policy solution/concept to solve the problem. A policy frame manifests itself to a window of opportunity in Kingdon’s sense as soon as a sufficient number of relevant people in the policy discourse accept the frames interpretation of reality as a cognitive basis to act upon.