A Theoretical Debate and Strategy to Link Structure and Agency in Policy Process Studies: A Network Perspective

Guang-Xu Wang


Questions of policy formation/implementation are often translated into the language of power and policy process is little doubt a political issue rather than a technical issue. The studies of policy process are used to apply either structural or individual perspective to explain power distribution in policy formation/implementation and have also led to the methodological puzzle of that what the real policy process is or how it does be consisted. This paper attempts to review the previous works and provide a suitable framework to link structural and individual perspectives in the study of state policy process. Traditional state policy process approaches such as Marxist theory, Pluralist approach, Elites approach and Corporatism approach are discussed to demonstrate the methodological controversy of different analytical levels. In order to grasp more comprehensive understanding of policy process, the interests and interactions of the political actors, how the institutional rules of game, the distribution of political resources and power construct their choices and political judgement should be considered in the research framework. It can be argued that policy network approach (or network perspective) can be seen as an appropriate strategy to combine microscopic and macroscopic analysis of policy process.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/jpl.v3n2p101

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