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Competing Paradigms for Analyzing Policy Development in Everglades Restoration

Title: Competing Paradigms for Analyzing Policy Development in Everglades Restoration: Case Study Using Advocacy Coalition Framework and Habermas' Critical Theory.
Name(s): Knox, Claire Connolly, author
deHaven-Smith, Lance, professor directing dissertation
Jackson, Robert, university representative
Brower, Ralph, committee member
Klay, William Earle, committee member
School of Public Administration and Policy, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2010
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Using a constructionist approach, this study applies the critical theory of Jürgen Habermas to analyze public policies surrounding the Florida Everglades. Habermas argues that policymakers in advanced industrial democracies are caught between conflicting imperatives: they are expected to serve the interests of their nation as a whole, but they must prop up an economic system that benefits the wealthy at the expense of most workers and the environment. Critical theory suggests that this contradiction will be reflected in Everglades policy by communicative distortions and blockages that suppress and conceal tensions between environmental and economic priorities. In theory, policymakers will give programs misleading names; will overstate programs' environmental benefits and understate their benefits to economic special interests (farmers, ranchers, developers); and will suppress evidence and advocacy that cast doubt on policymakers' claims about program performance. A constructionist approach previously has been used in policy analysis, and the research has shown that definitions of public problems are socially constructed. Yet without a larger theoretical framework, such as critical theory, constructionist analysis has been insensitive to the presence of systemic contradictions and reactions to those contradictions in the policy process. Conversely, comprehensive theories have been used in policy analysis to highlight and explain policy muddles and failures, but these analyses have not included constructionist research to investigate how systemic contradictions erupt and play out as policy develops. Thus, this study bridges an important gap in policy theory and research. The study also poses a challenge to mainstream policy research, which typically avoids comprehensive theory and treats policy areas, policy concepts, and problem definitions as straightforward and unproblematic. By approaching the subject matter from a critical theory perspective, the study seeks to demonstrate that mainstream policy research actually relies on a comprehensive set of assumptions that it fails to recognize. This set of unacknowledged premises constitutes a paradigm in need of articulation and assessment. The mainstream paradigm assumes that government activity is fragmented into numerous, separate, and distinct "policy areas"; each policy area evolves independently according to its own internal logic; and policymakers are reasonable, truthful, and oriented to solving public problems and improving policy performance. By applying critical theory to Everglades policy and policymaking, the study reveals this paradigm by confronting it with competing concepts and hypotheses.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-2864 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2010.
Date of Defense: July 26, 2010.
Keywords: Critical Theory, Habermas, Advocacy Coalition Framework, Social Construction Theory, Everglades
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Lance deHaven-Smith, Professor Directing Dissertation; Robert Jackson, University Representative; Ralph Brower, Committee Member; William Earle Klay, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Public policy
Public administration
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

Choose the citation style.
Knox, C. C. (2010). Competing Paradigms for Analyzing Policy Development in Everglades Restoration: Case Study Using Advocacy Coalition Framework and Habermas' Critical Theory. Retrieved from