Source: Howlett, M & Shivakoti, R. (2014) Agenda-Setting Tools: State-Driven Agenda Activity from Government Relations to Scenario Forecasting. DRAFT PAPER, Presented to ECPR Glasgow General Conference, Non-Implementation Tools Panel
Government communications are the ‘sermons’ in the ‘carrots, sticks, organizations and sermons’ formulation of basic policy instrument types. Evert Vedung defines these ‘sermons’ as:
“Efforts to use the knowledge and data available to governments to influence consumer and producer behaviour in a direction consistent with government aims and wishes” and/or “gather information in order to further their aims and ambitions” (Vedung and van der Doelen, 1998).
This definition, while useful, is limited in that it conceals or elides several dimensions of information tool use and the general purposes to which they can be put.
Two dimensions of government communications activities, in particular, are often incorrectly juxtaposed in the literature on the subject. First, whether the communication activities are intended to serve as devices primarily oriented towards the manipulation of policy actors (Saward, 1992; Edelman, 1988) or social and economic ones (Hornik, 1989; Jahn et al., 2005) and, second, which stages of the production process or policy cycle different communication tools focus upon (Howlett, 2009).Both missing dimensions require further elaboration in order to develop a workable definition and classification of communication tools for comparative purposes.
With respect to the first “substantive” dimension, much existing literature focuses very much on the manipulation of the behaviour of economic actors – namely consumers and producers – to the neglect of the effects such tools can and do have upon other kinds of policy and policy network actors and activities. With respect to the second “procedural” concern, many studies focus exclusively on the role of government communications as part of the agenda-setting process in government (Mikenberg, 2001; Sulitzeanu-Kenan, 2007) or on its role in policy implementation (Salmon, 1989a, 1989b), or upon their effect on consumption activities and actors versus those involving productive or distributive activities. These are quite different roles and functions within the policy and production processes, however, and should be carefully distinguished from each other in order to understand the links and linkages that exist between government communication strategies and activities and policy outcomes such as accountability and policy efficacy and in order to assess any trends or directions in the use of these instruments, either cross-sectorally or cross-nationally, or over time, or both.
In Text Citations:
Edelman, Murray J. Constructing the Political Spectacle, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988, pp. 12-13
Hornik, R. “The Knowledge‐Behavior Gap in Public Information Campaigns.” In Information Campaigns: Managing the Process of Social Change, edited by C. Salmon. Newberry Park: Sage, 1989
Jahn, G., M. Schramm, and A. Spiller. “The Reliability of Certification: Quality Labels as a Consumer Policy Tool.” Journal of Consumer Policy 28 (2005): 53‐73.
Mikenberg, M. “The Radical Right in Public Office: Agenda‐Setting and Policy Effects.” West European Politics 24, no. 4 (2001): 1‐21.
Salmon, C. “Campaigns for Social Improvement: An Overview of Values, Rationales, and Impacts.” In Information Campaigns: Managing the Process of Social Change, edited by C. Salmon, 1‐32. Newberry Park: Sage, 1989.
Salmon, C. Information Campaigns: Managing the Process of Social Change. Newberry Park: Sage, 1989.
Saward, M. Co‐Optive Politics and State Legitimacy. Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1992
Sulitzeanu‐Kenan, Raanan, “Scything the Grass: Agenda‐Setting Consequences of Appointing Public Inquiries in the UK. A Longitudinal Analysis.” Policy & Politics 35, no. 4 (2007): 629‐ 50.
Vedung, E. and F. C. J. v. d. Doelen (1998). The Sermon: Information Programs in the Public Policy Process ‐ Choice, Effects and Evaluation. Carrots, Sticks and Sermons: Policy Instruments and Their Evaluation. M.‐L. Bemelmans‐Videc, R. C. Rist and E. Vedung. New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers: 103‐128.