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Title: Public policy for long-term societal challenges? : the reframing of policy narratives and the 'Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe'
Author: Miedzinski, Michal
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 3122
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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This research examined how public policy addresses long-term societal challenges. The case study focused on policy narratives and frames of resource efficiency in the ‘Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ of the European Commission (EC). The study followed an interpretive constructionist perspective on public policy and assumed a research strategy based on a single critical case study. The literature review examined perspectives on policy narratives, frames, knowledge and social learning in the interpretive policy analysis and organisation studies literature. Foresight and futures literature also provided insights on the use and nature of knowledge and policy learning in the process of deliberation of future visions. The empirical enquiry was based on a series of in-depth interviews with policy stakeholders, formal EU policy documents and speeches as well as participation in targeted policy events. The thesis makes contributions in three areas. First, the study developed and applied a new conceptual and methodological approach – a policy narrative framework analysis(POLFRAME) – to examine different discursive and narrative layers of policy narratives of the resource efficiency agenda. The framework can lend itself to interrogate any policy narrative, notably ones with explicit or implicit future scenarios and vision. Second, the policy case study contributed to knowledge on the evolving EU policy area of resource efficiency, addressing challenges of the sustainable use of natural resources. The research provided insights into how a complex societal, economic and environmental challenge of resource efficiency was understood by different stakeholders and intentionally framed in the official policy narrative. The emerging EU agenda on resource efficiency was intentionally reframed to advance a broader approach to environmental policy that moves beyond a traditional goal of environmental protection towards a systemic transition of economic system to achieve decoupling of economic growth from environmental impacts. While the study found evidence of a significant shift in scoping the challenge, their framing has not led to radical changes in underlying normative assumptions on the relation between nature and society or on the central role of economic growth in transition. Third, the research discussed theoretical implications of introducing a long-term challenge-driven perspective to public policy narratives. Introducing a future vision to policy narrative added a stronger normative orientation to policy argumentation. The case study demonstrated that an inclusion of a long-term societal challenge to the resource efficiency agenda influenced the selection, interpretation and use of evidence in policy narratives. The design of challenge-driven long-term policies bears a family resemblance to the perspective of post-normal science. Finally, the thesis puts forward messages and recommendations for policy makers and practitioners interested in the process of radical policy reframing. It also suggests further research encompassing a comparative dimension and longer periods of enquiry of policy frames, which would allow for better understanding the effects of the reframing of policy on various phases of policy cycles.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: EU policy making ; policy narrative analysis ; policy frames ; policy roadmap ; long-term planning ; resource efficiency