Chapter 4 continues the focus on the second question of the book – how and why has the idea of wellbeing risen up the political agenda? It begins with an overview of developments across a number of political systems before turning to a detailed comparative analysis of the rise of wellbeing in the UK and EU systems. In doing so it both responds to the call for more comparative studies of agenda-setting and provides insights into the relationship between processes that connect different political systems within the context of multi-level governance. This comparative study allows not only for a more systematic exploration of the key variables in policymaking in different contexts (e.g., the institutional structures, decision-making processes and the role of interest groups) but also the potential for understanding the exclusion of ideas from the agenda or ‘non-decisions’. The discussion of each case study is structured according to Kingdon’s multiple streams approach, considering in turn policy, politics and problem streams. The comparative analysis reveals both institutional and ideational biases that shape the agenda-setting dynamics of the wellbeing issue in different contexts and produce different emphases in approaches to defining and measuring wellbeing.
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