Ce numéro témoigne de la multiplication des travaux - francophones et anglo-américains - portant sur la notion d'« instruments de l'action publique » et clarifie cette notion aux contours de plus en plus « élastiques ». Read More
Pierre Lascoumes, Louis Simard
Public policy seen through the prism of its instruments
In recent years, the concepts of "policy tools" and “government technologies” have undergone a marked revival in French-language research. That research is based on an Anglo-American tradition that goes back over 40 years and is now highly diversified, but it has enriched that tradition with various contributions ranging from theories of power to the sociology of science. This paper presents a panorama of the literature in the field, bringing out the diversity of coexisting viewpoints and their development. An instruments-based approach is a good way to track changes in public action, as well as in regimes and political styles. It also conduces to grasping the tangible nature of public action. Understanding instrumentation is a way of comprehending changes in the state by focusing on its practices and reconfigurations, particularly in the ongoing tension between incentives and constraints.
European coordination alla bolognese
This article deals with the construction of the European Higher Education Area, or the Bologna Process. It uses and discusses an instruments- based approach to retrace in detail the configuration and instrumentation of a European system to coordinate national higher education policies. This approach reveals how what was initially a soft and voluntary process is piloted by means of a cross-sectional tool, namely stocktaking. Furthermore, it aids in characterizing a coordination “à la bolognaise” process that is familiar with “new modes of European governance”, but has a special relation to the European Union, where it has been developed and institutionalised outside the EU institutional framework.
Charlotte Halpern, Patrick Le Galès
No autonomous public policy without ad hoc instruments
This article explores the link between policy instrumentation and policy change at the EU level. It is based on a comparative analysis of policy instruments and their development in European urban and environmental policies. The analysis is based on an original dataset, retracing the evolution of European policy instruments in both areas over the past three decades, and how asks and by whom they were chosen and combined. Challenging the existing literature on new policy instruments and new forms of EU governance, our longitudinal analysis indicates that the traditional focus on new or innovative policy instruments is of limited explanatory power. Our approach shows how EU policies and policy-making are informed by the politics of choice and the combination of policy instruments.
The reform of administrative computer technology under the French government's Plan Calcul (1966-1975) was not based on a univocal intention or a specific representation of its future effects. Computer technology was not the vector of a single, coherent and stabilized modernization effort. On the contrary, it was introduced as a function of conflicting imperatives. The resources available to the agents of that reform enabled them to assert divergent representations of the tool they were championing. While computer technology altered the connections between them, the impossibility of imposing irreversible decisions bred protracted uncertainty about its real modernizing potentialities and favoured the buildup of incompatible conceptions, which in turn contributed to its spread during that period.
DEMOCRACIES OUT TO WIN HEARTS AND MINDS IN ASYMMETRICAL WARS.
GENERAL PROBLEMS AND SPECIFIC HISTORICAL SITUATIONS
The book reviewed here treats of the Israeli-Palestinian military problem as a particular case of the general question of democracies faced with the dilemmas of “counter-insurgency”. Combining Raymond Aron's realistic approach and Michael Walzer's ethical approach, the author recommends a different military policy : one that is guided by “empathy”, acknowledging the Palestinians' suffering and at least the partial validity of their demands, and by “schizophrenia”, pursuing at once the eradication of armed groups and support for civilian populations. This appeal to reason based on “short-term history” (1980-2010) may well overlook the uniqueness of a conflict in which “current events hark back in time” and in which “long[er]-term history” (1920-2010) shows the primacy of “overarching narratives” whose acceptance is a prerequisite for the rational games they authorize. In this case, Zahal's strategic dilemma becomes the Israeli state's political dilemma: to avoid both “hostile empathy” and “defeatist sympathy”.