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Durham e-Theses
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The Politics of Policy-Making: Children's Services Reform (1997-2015)

PURCELL, CARL,ANTHONY (2016) The Politics of Policy-Making: Children's Services Reform (1997-2015). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis questions the two dominant theoretical perspectives on contemporary British policy-making, Rhodes’ (1997) Differentiated Polity Model (DPM) and Marsh et al’s (2001; 2003) Asymmetric Power Model (APM). Rhodes emphasises the influence of autonomous non-governmental policy networks over the policy-making process. Challenging this view, Marsh et al claim that public policy is largely determined by an administrative elite based in Whitehall departments. Inspired by Moran’s (2007) theory of the British regulatory state, this research asks whether or not British policy-making is a more politically-driven process than either the DPM or the APM acknowledge. Responding to this question requires an in-depth longitudinal study of policy-making, examining interaction between policy elites, including policy network representatives, departmental civil servants and politicians. Children’s services reform provides a critical test case given the diverse range of groups engaged in the policy-making process. This research collected evidence from 40 in-depth interviews with prominent policy actors, supplemented by analysis of over 300 official policy publications, Select Committee proceedings and media reports. The time frame applied (1997-2015) allowed for a comprehensive examination of different aspects of the children’s services policy-making process under both the Labour and Coalition governments. On the basis of this evidence, this research develops five theoretical propositions which question the separation of the administrative and political domains of policy-making under both the DPM and the APM. These relate to: (1) the prominent role of ministers in Whitehall; (2) the limits of policy network access and influence; (3) the political dynamics driving public sector restructuring; (4) the role of party leaders and the importance of inter and intra-party political competition to the development of policy; and (5) the political dynamics of so-called evidence-based policy.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Business Administration
Keywords:Policy networks, Whitehall, party politics, Differentiated Polity Model, Asymmetric Power Model, British regulatory state, children's services
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Economics, Finance and Business, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Dec 2016 09:18

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