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Title: The discursive politics of an intractable policy controversy : the issue-definition of climate change in the United States Congress, 1993 to 2008
Author: Hope, Mat
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 3807
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis analyses the discursive processes behind the US Congress' continual failure to pass comprehensive climate change legislation. It finds that a contradictory issue-definition was institutionalised, entrenching a range of particularly problematic framings of the policy issue, which classified 'climate change' policy as, simultaneously, an 'international' , ' energy', 'environmental' , 'economics', 'scientific' , 'ethical' and 'management' issue. It is argued that this issue-definition was institutionalised through a number of policy punctuations (including the Byrd-Hagel resolution of 1997, various iterations of the Climate Stewardship Acts (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007), and the Climate Security Act of 2008), leading to the perpetuation of congressional climate change policy stasis. This project aligns with interpretive policy analyses (IPA) which emphasise the constructed nature of policy problems (see Hajer 1995; Wagenaar 2011; Yanow 2000). Previous explanations for the US government's climate change policy recalcitrance tend to be interest-based explanations. In contrast, this project seeks to illuminate the discursive elements of the policy process to better understand how this particularly stubborn policy problem - which Schon and Rein (1994) would describe as a 'policy controversy' - persists. To do so, it uses discursive institutionalist tools (see Schmidt 2002, 2006) to conduct a frame analysis of congressional climate change debates between 1993 and 2008, based on Schon and Rein's (1994) framing model. As such, this project contributes in three areas: theoretical, methodological, and empirical. It shows that discursive institutionalism can be used to explain cases of policy stasis as well as change - an as yet underdeveloped part of the literature. Furthermore, it shows that frame analysis is a useful IP A method to illuminate the discursive elements of policy controversies. Finally, it builds on previous explanations of Congress' climate change policy laggardness, going beyond interest-based explanations and showing how a particular issue-definition and framing perpetuated the policy controversy. It finds that before Congress can take action to pass comprehensive climate change legislation - above all - the policy issue must first be redefined
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available