the value of framing concepts

Framing concepts are definitely very helpful for analysing - or in a first step heuristically describing - policy making processes in complex environments like the European Union.

Two important reasons stand out in this regard: Firstly the very limited amount of actual knowledge about the a given policy that exists among the relevant actors; and secondly the fact that policy processes and - even more so - policy documents are highly abstract in nature, which makes it very difficult to conceive many actors that have direct experience or schemata that could function as an a priori context for a policy message.

Thus, if almost nobody knows what exactly a policy tries to accomplish, and even fewer people have a preconceived idea how to judged such a policy, a policy frame (which defines the problem, identifies the cause, provides a value judgement and proposes a remedy to address the problem) becomes the most important cognitive basis for the policy making process. Applied to a concrete case, an interesting question is exactly how few people can be expected to know what a policy is about and why it is necessary.

time is running

It has again been many months since the last post here, and despite the fact that theory-building has to some extend been pushed onto to the backseat (at least in any direct, concretely manifested manner) due to more pragmatic, in-the-field research activities, a number of issues have emerged that will be reported here.

To start: It has become very clear that the moving-target quality of policy-making warrants specific attention. While any policy document has a prescriptive quality to it, ie. is meant to trigger certain developments or at least reactions, some documents seem to be little more than defensive instruments developed to essentially accomplish two things:

1. Fulfill a political promise that a certain measure would be taken by a specified time in regard to constructed problem or need

2. To provide a document that, while being broadly acceptable to the stakeholders involved in the issue, summarizes the questions at stake hinting in a certain direction without actually answering them.

Thus, such a document is meant to functionally clarifying a political issues in order to keep the drafting entity in business of coming up with follow-up documents and reports, thereby proving involvement and responsibility taken seriously (and hence proving its own relevance)