Theoretical Issues in Policy Analysis

By M. E. Hawkesworth

Series: SUNY series in Political Theory: Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780887068416, 287 pages, August 1988
Hardcover : 9780887068409, 287 pages, August 1988

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: Unresolved Problems of an Unacknowledged Tradition
2. Policy Analysis: Images and Issues
3. Separate Spheres: On the Institutionalization of a Dichotomy
4. The Fallacy of False Alternatives
5. Identifying and Assessing Theoretical Presuppositions: The Case of Affirmative Action
6. Theoretical Presuppositions and the Problem of Explanation: The Case of Kampuchea
7. Theoretical Presuppositions and Policy Predictions: The Case of Human Rights
8. The Political Cast of Policy Presuppositions: The Case of Workfare
9. Science, Scientism, and Democracy: A Return to Theoretical Issues



What is the relation between policy analysis and political decision-making? Is the policy analyst a handmaiden of democracy or an agent of technocracy? Do recent debates in the policy literature illuminate or obfuscate these issues? What analytic techniques are available to resolve such questions?

This study considers the nature of policy inquiry in detail and explores norms and theoretical assumptions seldom subjected to scrutiny. The author demonstrates how conceptual presuppositions and methodological commitments have constricted our understanding of political problems and so hindered prescriptions for viable policy options.

Proposed here is an alternative framework for policy inquiry that is both pragmatic and sophisticated. Hawkesworth considers the implications of this alternative model in a series of case studies that addresses important foreign and domestic policy issues. The epistemic and practical criticisms presented in this study provide new direction for the field of policy studies.

M. E. Hawkesworth is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville.


"Hawkesworth's study is the only one I know to integrate intelligent criticism of the reigning epistemology and cogent presentation of an alternative with detailed demonstration of how-to-do analysis according to the alternative. The four chapters on policy issues—affirmative action, foreign policy toward Cambodia, human rights, and workfare—are especially excellent. " — John S. Nelson, University of Iowa, Iowa City