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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Learning is an important concept in the study of public policy and covers a range of actions where evidence is used to shape and improve decisions, including using science to inform responses to problems; adjusting policy based on successes and failures; and forming new beliefs about salient issues, their causes, and appropriate solutions. Network concepts are central to theoretical treatments of learning. Three assumptions are often made about networks and their role in learning processes: (1) most policy networks exhibit segregation, in the sense that network ties tend to exist among actors with shared traits, such as belief systems or institutional affiliations; (2) segregated networks inhibit policy learning; and (3) network segregation is a result of homophily. This chapter reviews the rich literature underlying each of these propositions and shows that the relationships between networks and learning are more complex than often assumed.

Keywords: learning, policy networks, network segregation, collaboration, belief systems, modularity, homophily

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