Of Paradigms and Power: British Economic Policy Making since Thatcher

Martin B. Carstensen, Matthias Matthijs

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How do ruling policy paradigms persist over time and why do they often undergo significant internal ideational changes? While the impact of Peter Hall's approach to policy paradigms on the study of governance has been immense, there is a burgeoning consensus that a “Kuhnian” understanding of paradigms makes punctuated equilibrium style shifts the only game in town. While Hall's approach can account for inter‐paradigm change with reference to exogenous shocks, it does not allow for significant ideational shifts to occur intra‐paradigm. To remedy this, we place ideational power dynamics at the heart of the study of policy paradigms. We demonstrate the general applicability of our approach by examining the evolution of British macroeconomic policy‐making since 1990. We show how key policy‐makers were able to employ their institutional and ideational power to reinterpret and redefine the dominant neoliberal understanding of the economy to match their own specific ideas and policy priorities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGovernance: An international journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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