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Summary of Policy Paradox by Deborah Stone

Uploaded by planotJ on Oct 26, 2011

This essay summarizes the book by Deborah Stone.

Policy Paradox by Deborah Stone is an extremely readable book. Although it might be considered a “textbook,” Stone has written in a lively, conversational style that eliminates any hint of dryness.
She takes as her basic premise the idea that the assumption of many public policy makers is flawed. “The fields of political science, public administration, law, and policy analysis have a common mission of rescuing public policy from the irrationalities and indignities of politics, hoping to make policy instead with rational, analytical, and scientific methods.” (P. 7). She argues that this idea, of combining the missions of these various agencies in the hope of arriving at a systematic way of making rational policy, is mistaken, because the thought underlying them is itself paradoxical, and furthermore, because the agencies are political. Thus, any analysis of the policies of these agencies is done in a political manner; that is, “it is a strategically crafted argument, designed to create ambiguities and paradoxes and … resolved in a particular direction.” (P. 8).
Her second aim is to find a political analysis that makes sense, given the fact that the idea of divorcing public policy from politics is in itself a paradox.
She begins by defining her terms in an attempt to find a good “model of political society … a model of the simplest version of society that retains the essential elements of politics.” (P. 17). She first examines the market model, but then goes on to say that contrasting the market model with the political model will show how grossly the market model distorts political life. (P. 17). Given the fact that much of today’s society, in particular those who “worship” at the altar of the free market, is apparently devoted to the unbridled spread of global capitalism, this is an excellent starting point.
In answer to those who continually praise the unregulated free market as the only true force driving the economy, and who resist efforts to “level the playing field”, saying that such policies are unnecessary, Stone points out that people who make that argument see the market in terms of individuals only. These individuals seek to maximize profits for themselves. But that’s not the way the real world works, because people, despite their individuality, also have ties to organizations and entities...

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Uploaded by:   planotJ

Date:   10/26/2011

Category:   Political Science

Length:   4 pages (970 words)

Views:   8313

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