Methods for policy analysis

Just came across this twitter post from @ThiagoGdeAragao on reading political scenarios and thought it is worth sharing (and certainly applying!).

According to him, what we see, debate, hate and love in politics in only the tip of an iceberg – there are many variables underneath the surface.

First, we must understand that each individual placed in a position of power carries with him/herself cultural and historical predispositions, preferences and different levels of understanding in reference to particular topics. This “situated knowledge”, as Donna Haraway would call, is complemented with thermometers for morality and ethics, embedded with levels of value flexibility. These factors condition one’s behavior and judgement towards the different matters at stake. Then, the matters themselves, such as reforms, public policies and projects, become secondary.

An increasing layer of complexity is added to the analysis when considering that each politician has an electoral base with varying interests, geographies and priorities mixed in different values and perception modes.

When a matter arrives at the hand of a congressman, the decision-making process for that particular topic is influenced by his/her personal beliefs, their party’s ideological inclination and interests, and their understanding of the issue under discussion. Such variables are further impacted by the perception of the person who first proposed the project and the sets of variables that branch from the initiative (personal interests and situated knowledges, party’s interests, electoral interests, etc.).

When engaging in an issue, politicians are influenced by their conscient ideologies (one’s rethoric) and unconscious ideologies (what is not acknowledged); and will consider how the topic suits their electoral base, how it impacts future elections, and how the issue impacts their own morality and the perception of others onto their morality. Also, ranking of interests and timing control mechanisms are established in order to prioritize voting and strategize agreements.

Seems complicated? Well, it is. But perhaps, having a framework template to map topics of interest is a good start to political scenario “sensemaking”.

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