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Book Sections Year : 2018

Methods of French policy studies


Extract: […] « This chapter primarily focuses on political science, where in academia in particular, a clear emphasis has been placed on producing empirical knowledge on the policy process that is axiologically neutral, as opposed to normative contributions. There is also a strong tradition of qualitative empirical inquiry in French studies but relatively few quantitative studies (Lewis-Beck and Belanger, 2015); the sociological imprint of inquiry tools is obvious, notably semi-structured interviews, mid-term analyses of the policy process and small-N studies; last, when it comes to theoretical approaches, emphasis is placed on ideational processes and, in parallel, rational choice frameworks are rejected. By contrast, there is greater heterogeneity in terms of methods when the analysis is undertaken by practitioners. Moreover, this type of policy analysis has hardly been formalised and prioritises the oral transmission of know-how among professional communities. During the 1970s, however, specially trained engineers (Grand Corps) who then dominated departmental bureaucracies attempted to develop common methods of policy analysis. These attempts failed in the 1980s and 1990s because of changes in power relations between ministries in the aftermath of the economic crisis. Their failure was also driven by the emergence of alternative expertise within the public sphere, originating in particular from the decentralisation process of the then unitary state and a contestation of the central state’s monopolistic expertise. This chapter therefore suggests that policy studies and the methods of policy analysis have largely developed in parallel with virtually no intersection. It illustrates the main features of the methods used by academics and practitioners. The first section discusses the empirical focus and the methods used in French academic research to observe the policy process. The second section centres on the methods that explain this process. The third section examines the methods used by practitioners for policy analysis. » […]
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halshs-03832285 , version 1 (27-10-2022)


  • HAL Id : halshs-03832285 , version 1


Claire Dupuy, Philippe Zittoun. Methods of French policy studies. Charlotte Halpern; Patrick Hassenteufel; Philippe Zittoun. Policy analysis in France, 11, Policy Press, pp.79-98, 2018, International library of policy analysis, ISSN 2059-0326, 978-1-4473-2421-8. ⟨halshs-03832285⟩
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