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The Variable Geometry of Policy Styles: Italy from weak to stronger state?

Brunazzo, Marco, and Della Sala, Vincent. (2007) The Variable Geometry of Policy Styles: Italy from weak to stronger state? In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. It is now nearly 25 years since the publication of Policy Styles in Western Europe, edited by Jeremy Richardson, which set out to compare European states by the “styles” that defined their approach to policy making. It was a systematic attempt to explore the ways in which the “standard operating procedures” in making decisions about policy could shape their content. It is perhaps no coincidence that a similar amount of time has elapsed since authors began to speak of a continuum of weak and strong states that reflected their capacity to shape policy outputs. Much has since happened with respect not only to policy content but also to how it has come to be understood; perhaps even more has happened to the capacity of modern states. Paradoxically, institutional arguments, which the policy styles and state capacity approaches helped establish, have assumed a central position in policy and political studies, despite the widespread consensus that the capacity and centrality of states have been challenged, if not undermined, by the growing porosity of national borders. This is especially the case in Europe where national borders are the most porous, if not already outright dismantled. The leads us to question whether the notion of policy styles, and its attendant concepts, remain useful tools in understanding the dynamics of public policy in contemporary Europe. The paper argues that they are but uses the concepts in a different way. Rather than look at them as the factors that shape policy, we will ask whether the growing porosity of national borders, particularly acute in the case of the European Union, has a significant effect on policy styles and state capacity. The paper will argue that the Richardson et al. schema provides a useful way of assessing state capacity and classifying states along a weak-strong continuum. With this as our starting point, we will try to assess the extent to which dynamics of European integration may affect policy styles and consequently state capacity. Our argument, using the Italian case, is that Europeanization has helped consolidate the variable geometry of policy styles; that is, that we can identify different policy styles between policy sectors. Indeed, one of the consequences of European integration is that it may strengthen the state in some sectors while not having the same effect in others. Italy was characterised in the 1980s as having a weak state that was easily penetrated by societal and political interests. It will ask whether state institutions continue to be penetrated by societal and political interests; or whether European integration has re-defined state capacity so that it is now better able to define and pursue interests not only at the European level but also domestically. If the latter is the case, then perhaps we need to begin to think of new ways of defining policy styles. The paper will be divided into four parts. The first will briefly re-visit the discussion of policy styles and link it more directly to that of state capacity. The second will make the connection between the burgeoning work on Europeanization and how it may provide some claims to be explored with respect to policy styles. The final two sections will explore two policy areas – regional development and industrial policy – in Italy to point out the emerging variable geometry of policy styles.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: State capacity; policy style.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > europeanisation/europeanization & European identity
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > regional policy/structural funds
    Countries > Italy
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > industrial policy
    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 > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 16
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:49

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