CfP: Understanding Processes of Policy Contestation. Panel 47 at the 7th International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis: Understanding the Drama of Democracy. Policy Work, Power and Transformation, Tilburg University, 5-7 July 2012

Panel Chairs
Christian Broer and Imrat Verhoeven

This panel brings together interpretive studies of publicly contested policies. Examples can be protests against radioactive waste disposal, new highways, nature development, community mental health facilities or mobile phone base stations to name a few. Citizens may protest these plans, devise alternatives or start political lobbying. This is what Tilly calls processes of contentious politics: “(…) interactions in which actors make claims bearing on someone else’s interests, in which governments appear either as targets, initiators of claims, or third parties (Tilly 2008:5). This panel will try to bring together the case-based insights we have about policy contestation to draw out commonalities. Some provisional themes are:

Often becoming involved after political decisions affecting their environment or community have been made, these citizens do not fit the traditional idea of a policy cycle. Not surprisingly policymakers often react dismissive, framing these citizens as NIMBY’s driven by their self-interest or as angry citizens acting irrationally. But what exactly is at stake in policy contestation? In some cases, we see that NIMBY-ism is strongly shaped by policy discourse. In other cases, protest starts out as NIMBY but develops into deliberative governance because of the learning effects that continuous interactions with government may produce.

Languages of emotion
Through their language collective (political) actors give meaning to policy initiatives. In ever changing combinations they create public discourses in which some participants try to legitimate and others try to problematize specific policy interventions. In this way citizens can be triggered by policy initiatives “to reflect on what they really value, what motivates them to voice their concerns or wishes and become politically active themselves” (Hajer 2003: 88). While this is established wisdom in interpretive policy research with its focus on arguments in policymaking, muss less is known about the way emotions figure in policy. Therefore we specifically invite contributions which address the emotional dynamics, rules or performances of policy contestations.

Government as claimant
To distinguish the policy process from the policymakers allows us to scrutinize the role of governmental. We already see that governmental organizations can mobilize citizens and organizations to support their claims against other layers of government. We don’t know that much about this ‘social movement like’ behavior of governmental organizations and like to invite papers on this issue. We are interested in papers analyzing the role of collective (political) actors in mobilizing citizens and papers addressing policy conflicts amongst these actors themselves without involving the public.

We warmly welcome papers by Ph.D. students but also by more experienced researchers working from an interpretative perspective. Based on positive experience during last years IPA conference, we will deploy an unconventional format where the paper givers present each others instead of their own papers.

Deadline for paper proposals
31 January 2012. Use the conference homepage to submit a paper proposal.