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Beyond a “gesture”: the treatment of the symbolic in public policy analysis

Abstract : That the symbolic is an identifiable dimension of contemporary politics is unlikely to be a controversial statement. Yet, political scientists have been wary of drawing attention to the category, if not in denial about its importance for their field of study. The article starts with an overview of the public policy literature and shows how the symbolic dimension is often treated as less “real” and as “mere communication”. Despite the growing attention to feedback, narratives and qualitative approaches to the evaluation of policies, the symbolic remains a terrain treaded with care. In the second section, we propose a definition of the symbolic that highlights some of the key aspects that are relevant to political analysis and for the analysis of their role in public policy. In the third section, we advocate taking into account how public policies incorporate and use the symbolic and propose several avenues of research.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 21, 2020 - 2:32:26 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 1:59:53 PM

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Laurie Boussaguet, Florence Faucher. Beyond a “gesture”: the treatment of the symbolic in public policy analysis. French Politics, 2020, pp.Online. ⟨hal-02487243⟩

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