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"Spanish Water Policy and the National Hydrological Plan: An Advocacy Coalition Approach to Policy Change"

Bukowski, Jeanie. (2005) "Spanish Water Policy and the National Hydrological Plan: An Advocacy Coalition Approach to Policy Change". In: UNSPECIFIED, Austin, Texas. (Unpublished)

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    [Introduction]. The policy networks approach to understanding governance in modern societies is increasingly gaining currency among scholars who conceptualize the European Union (EU) as a multi-level system. For many analysts, the idea of intricate webs of public and private actors at various levels connected by common interests and dependence on resources would seem to capture the complexities of policy making better than other approaches. Policy network analysis is not without its critics, however. Among the criticisms leveled at this approach are that: 1) it is largely a descriptive model with few theoretical implications; 2) it underestimates the difficulty of delineating policy networks, particularly within the European Union; 3) it suffers from lack of definitional clarity; and 4) gathering empirical data within the rubric of policy networks is time consuming and does not provide sufficient yield (in terms of generalizable results) for the effort. The current paper seeks to address these criticisms by exploring a particular approach that falls generally within policy network analysis, the advocacy coalition framework (ACF) developed by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith (Sabatier 1987, 1988, 1991; Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith 1993). The ACF defines advocacy coalitions as consisting of public and private actors at all levels of government who have in common a set of beliefs (policy goals coupled with causal and other perceptions) (Jenkins-Smith and Sabatier 1993: 5). The framework views policy change as a function of: the interaction of competing advocacy coalitions attempting to translate their belief systems into governmental programs; and changes external to the policy “subsystem,” such as change in socioeconomic conditions, governing coalitions, or constitutional structure. Several hypotheses regarding policy change are specified in this approach. First, the paper summarizes the policy networks literature and the criticisms levelled against it, particularly the need to develop causal linkages between networks and policy outcomes. Second, the main definitions and hypotheses of the advocacy coalition framework are presented in the context of the network approach. Third, the ACF is applied in a case study of the evolution of Spanish national water policy from 1939 to 2004. Fourth, the advocacy coalition framework is then evaluated in terms of its explanatory usefulness in the Spanish case, and its ability to overcome weaknesses in the policy networks approach more generally.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Policy network analysis; advocacy coalition framework.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Spain
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > historical development of EC (pre-1986)
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > decision making/policy-making
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2005 (9th), March 31-April 2, 2005
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2005
    Page Range: p. 34
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:25

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