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Book Title: Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making|
The author of the book: Deborah Stone
ISBN 13: 9780393976250
Edition: W. W. Norton & Company
Date of issue: July 1st 2001
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 21.63 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.1
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Deborah Stone's "Policy Paradox" is an important work in the field of policy analysis. The subtitle is illuminating: "The Art of Political Decision Making." Her takeoff point is the following statement (pages x-xi): "This new field of policy analysis supposedly devoted to improving governance, was based on a profound disgust for the ambiguities and paradoxes of politics. . . . In rational analysis, everything has one and only one meaning." In her own words, she (page xi) ". . .wrote this book to critique the field and to capture, I hope, a more inspiring and humane kind of policy analysis."
Her basic point is that the rational models drawn from economics do not explain very well how policy analysis works. Nor, in her view, should it be the actual model for decision making. She contends that economic rationality often gives way to political reality, to accommodation to conflicting interests, to compromise, to values other than economic efficiency (such as liberty, fairness, and so on).
The introduction opens the book strongly, with Stone noting policy paradoxes, where the economic rational model does not prevail and explain how things work. She argues (page 13) that "each type of policy instrument [e.g., inducements, rules, rights, for example:] is a kind of sports arena, each with its peculiar ground rules, within which political conflicts are continued." The first chapter continues the theme, by speaking of the market (economics) and the polis (politics), with a nice table summarizing key points on page 33). She concludes that (page 34) "Problems in the polis are never `solved' in the way that economic needs are met in the market model." Two different realms, and what works in the market may or may not work in the polis.
The book proceeds in three major sections: Part II focuses on broad goals (e.g., equity, efficiency, security, liberty); Part III examines problems (with chapters labeled as follows: symbols, numbers, causes, interests, decisions); Part IV focuses on solutions (or tools or instruments, such as inducements, rules, facts).
In the end, the book examines nicely the tensions between economic rational analysis of policy ideas and the messier but inescapable political process as it addresses policy issues. The reader will be provoked to think about important issues upon encountering Stone's perspective. A very useful work on the bigger picture of policy analysis.
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