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The Advocacy Coalition Framework provides an interesting but incomplete account of the role of ideas in environmental policy- making. Discuss

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Department of Politics COURSEWORK COVER SHEET Please ensure you submit TWO copies of your coursework. Student Number: 12510219 Programme of Study: Government, Policy and Politics Title of Course Unit: Public Policy: Interests, Ideas and Institutions Core ? Option q Essay 1 ? Essay 2 q (Please tick as appropriate) Essay Title: The Advocacy Coalition Framework provides an interesting but incomplete account of the role of ideas in environmental policy- making. Discuss. Word Count: 3, 286 Mark: Mark: Tutor signature: Tutor signature: Date: Date: For official use only 'The Advocacy Coalition Framework provides an interesting but incomplete account of the role of ideas in environmental policy- making'. Discuss. This essay will aim to explore the attributes and theory of the advocacy coalition framework and how it provides an incomplete account of the roles of ideas in environmental policy-making. It will begin by discussing what ideas are in policy making and how they affect the decision making process. It then moves on to discuss the role of ideas in the advocacy coalition framework, its features and the employment of the model with reference to Lake Tahoe case study in 1993. It will seek to address ways in which the advocacy coalition framework is incomplete in its application for environmental policy making and finally suggest alternative framework- epistemic communities - as a favourable model for the role of ideas. It will use examples of the chlorofluorocarbons case from 1987 to illustrate how epistemic communities provide a more adequate policy model. It will conclude by agreeing that advocacy coalition framework is an interesting but incomplete account for ideational theory in environmental policy making and recommend that epistemic communities model provides a more legitimate and thorough account. Although the epistemic community framework is a preferred framework for determining environmental policy, this essay will also propose some limitations to this model. However, this essay does not want to digress from the argument at hand therefore will not explain the limitations of epistemic communities in great detail, but acknowledges and ...read more.


Incompleteness of the ACF arises immediately as there is no hypothesis to activate coalitions earlier than the 'stable' ten year period. Often climate policy in particular needs to be far more pre-emptive and reactive, rather than awaiting a shock that forces a policy through hastily. Environmental issues attract interest groups, campaigners and supporters, businesses, government actors and others who are likely to form coalitions, need to constantly evolve and form coalitions and are perhaps more highly dependent on deep cores beliefs first and foremost, rather than variable policy core beliefs further down the line. The importance of policy- oriented learning is another aspect of ACF which is overly described, yet seldom explained. If indeed one of the main causes of ideas evolving is policy oriented learning and that such learning is instrumental in affecting policy over time, simultaneously there is a resistance to change deep and policy core beliefs. Therefore policy oriented learning is expected to change secondary aspects of a coalition's belief system and changes to policy sore are once again reliant solely upon exogenous shocks14. The external factors hypothesis as mentioned above, can also have a noticeable defect in addressing extreme environmental incidents or rare hazardous weather conditions which may place impetus upon policy change, Sabatier does not reflect on what happens to policy ideas if these exogenous shocks do not change policy core beliefs. ACF theory renders itself vulnerable in times of policy change occurs yet exogenous factors have not changed belief systems. In the previous examples of climate change, extreme weather conditions and the assumed consequences of environmental damage have not had significant impact on those policy makers who are 'climate sceptics.' Their policy core has by no means been changed or modified as a whole, even though empirical elements of climate change evidence has changed gradually over the last four decades15. There is no suggested alternative to the ACF if and when policy core is not changed, thus placing insufficient emphasis on the importance of the variation and content of decision making belief systems. ...read more.


This demonstrates the ability epistemic communities possess to transcend international borders and act globally, not just in national issues in the case of ACF. This attribute is imperative in environmental policy making if the policy is to affect global environment, such as the active actors of the UN's IPCC group. However, if environmental policy is to focus on only on national and localised issue, then Hass' ACF model as used in Lake Tahoe fits the policy call suitably. In conclusion, ACF theory cannot explain the role of ideas in environmental policy making completely. The fundamental core belief is non-negotiable but it is the policy core that can be, subject only to exogenous shocks, influenced and changes the course of policy maker's ideas through the formation of coalitions. However when change does occurs, irrespective of external influences, the ACF struggles to explain this new policy path. The theory aligns itself too closely to policy network theory and accentuates a descriptive model rather than casual without ever showing how changes of ideas occur. ACF is a good model to study decision making processes and how coalitions interact to determine a policy change, but in more national environmental causes and not sufficiently in global environmental policy making. To use ACF to explain a worldwide environmental policy which will affect political systems, actors and population globally, is too premature. A more functional model is epistemic communities, which offer a more complete, intuitive and legitimate theory of how ideas are juxtaposed throughout the policy process. It offers the most plausible and solid account for environmental politics, internationally, than the limiting factors of the ACF. It is also acknowledged that a rarefied view of science and reliance upon elites whom possess scientific expertise is serving to conspicuously omit other credible actors from epistemic community theory. These limitations however are far less than those that are found within ACF. Providing there is greater flexibility in the epistemic communities structure together with supplementing ideas from the ACF, the new fused model would allow greater acknowledgement that belief systems are vital and the reality that interest groups contract out epistemic community experts. ...read more.

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