Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing
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Handbook on Policy, Process and Governing

Edited by H. K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe

This Handbook covers the accounts, by practitioners and observers, of the ways in which policy is formed around problems, how these problems are recognized and understood, and how diverse participants come to be involved in addressing them. H.K. Colebatch and Robert Hoppe draw together a range of original contributions from experts in the field to illuminate the ways in which policies are formed and how they shape the process of governing.
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Chapter 16: Frames and framing in policymaking

Perri 6


How policymakers conceive of – which is to say, frame – their problems, options, constraints, resources and even the policy fields in which they work, is hugely consequential for understanding the ways in which they conduct their conflicts and strike whatever settlements they do. This chapter reviews definitions and types of frame and policymakers’ use (framing) of these conceptions. Against fashionable ‘power of ideas’ theories, the chapter argues that very often the really important frames are ‘thought styles’ of reasoning rather than those which set out substantive claims or worldviews. Moreover, it argues that frames and framing themselves require explanation and should not be taken as fundamental. The neo-Durkheimian argument is presented that informal institutional ordering of accountabilities among policymakers provides more convincing explanations of the range of variation in most basic kinds of frame, why people reach for some frames rather than others, why frames change and therefore why policies shift.

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