On the Indeterminacy of Policy Mistakes: Lessons from British Immigration Policy
This chapter proposes a conceptualisation of policy mistakes as actions, decisions or judgements made by policy actors, which have unintended and negative consequences. It identifies three elements of this definition that are often contested, indeterminate or contingent: the criteria by which a policy is negatively evaluated; the intention of the policy actor; and the time frame within which the consequences of an action are assessed. The second half of the chapter explores these issues through an empirical analysis of immigration policy mistakes in Britain. It aims to show that immigration policy evaluations are politically contested; that the intentions of policy actors are often ambiguous or difficult to recover; and that the evaluation of policies changes over time.
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