Author: P. Zittoun Genre:
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P. Zittoun (2011), « From Instrument to Policy: Observing the Meaning Process to Make a Decision », Politicka Misao – Croatian Political Science Review, Vol. 48, No. 5, 2011, pp. 106-124

From 1950, a lot of researchers try to understand what is policy, how to define it and what kind of knowledge we can produce about it. When Harold Lasswell in 1942 proposed to develop the policy science, he established a strong connection between the development of policy sciences and democracy. He deemed that there was a complementary relationship between knowing policy and the political system. With policy analysis at the end of the century, two kinds of knowledge have been developed. First, knowledge about the substance of policy, the different kind of instruments which compose it, their effects, meaning and goals. Second, knowledge of the policy process, to understand how and why policy changes. Each knowledge has its own dynamics.
But the problem is always the difficulty to link the two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of instrument analysis and knowledge of policy dynamics analysis. We can choose between work which understands the substance of policy but does not examine policy dynamics, and work about policy dynamics that does not take into account the specific substance of policy. Finally, a lot of researchers who produce knowledge of instruments never understand why their knowledge has so little influence. The paper aims to review the complex relationship between knowledge of instruments and knowledge of policy dynamics, and proposes to open a new way by considering the role of knowledge of instruments inside policy dynamics. The main idea is to focus on the discursive process of actors who transform instruments into policy by making sense of the instruments, and to illustrate this by some empirical examples.