Policy Sciences

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 175–195 | Cite as

Policy without polity? Policy analysis and the institutional void

  • Maarten Hajer


How should policy analysis respond to the changing context of policy making? This article examines three aspects of policy analysis in this changing context: polity, knowledge and intervention. It argues that policy making now often takes place in an ‘institutional void’ where there are no generally accepted rules and norms according to which politics is to be conducted and policy measures are to be agreed upon. More than before, solutions for pressing problems transgress the sovereignty of specific polities. Furthermore, the role of knowledge changes as the relationship between science and society has changed: scientific expertise is now negotiated rather than simply accepted. And, with the weakening of the state, it is far less obvious that the government is the sole actor to intervene in policy making. This article calls for a reconsideration of the analysis of policy making in the light of this changing context. Based on a contextual perspective it calls for a revitalization of the commitments of Harold Lasswell toward a policy science of democracy by proposing a new ‘deliberative’ policy analysis.


Policy Making Economic Policy Sole Actor Policy Analysis Policy Measure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maarten Hajer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of AmsterdamDL AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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