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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the “historical turn” in the policy sciences and why it has occurred. It evaluates four general models of historical change processes that are commonly applied in policy analyses: stochastic, historical narrative, path dependency, and process sequencing. The chapter sets out the origins and elements of each model and assesses the merits and evidence for each in the analysis of public policymaking. The chapter suggests more work needs to be done examining the assumptions and presuppositions of each model before it can be concluded that any represents the general case for all policy processes. Neither the irreversible linear reality assumed by narrative models, nor the random and chaotic world assumed by stochastic models, nor the contingent turning points and irreversible trajectories required of the path dependency model are found very often in policymaking. Hence, the chapter agues these models are likely to be less significant than process-sequencing ones in describing the overall pattern of policy dynamics and temporality.

Keywords: public policy, policy time, path dependency, process sequence, narrative, policy process, temporality

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