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Power, Discourse and Policy: Articulating a Hegemony Approach to Critical Policy Studies

Howarth, D (2009) 'Power, Discourse and Policy: Articulating a Hegemony Approach to Critical Policy Studies.' Critical Policy Studies, 3 (3-4). pp. 309-335. ISSN 1946-0171

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In this article, I argue that power and hegemony are vital for critically explaining a range of policymaking practices. Developing the basic assumptions of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe?s poststructuralist discourse theory, in which discourse is understood as an articulatory practice, I first elaborate the concept of power in relation to the work of Michel Foucault, Steven Lukes, and others. Power in this picture consists of radical acts of decision and institution, which involve the drawing of political frontiers via the creation of multiple lines of inclusion and exclusion. The exercise of power thus constitutes and produces practices, policies, and regimes. But power is also evident in the sedimentation of social relations via various techniques of political management, and through the elaboration of ideologies and fantasies, where the function of the latter is to conceal the radical contingency of social relations and to naturalize relations of domination. In elaborating this conception of power, I draw upon a neo-Gramscian concept of hegemony, which speaks to the construction and deconstruction of political coalitions, as well as the stabilization of practices and policy regimes into partially fixed historical blocs and formations. I conclude by setting out a five step approach that articulates the concepts of power and hegemony into a method of conducting critical policy studies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: power; hegemony; policymaking practices; fantasy; ideology
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2012 10:35
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:24

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