4006.1 - Who and What Are We Anyhow? Contested Symbols of...

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“Who and What Are We Anyhow?” Contested Symbols of Community Identity Eugene Bardach Goldman School of Public Policy University of California at Berkeley Presented at the Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, November 4-6, 2010, Boston, MA. 1
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Abstract Issues like whether to permit an Islamic Center near Ground Zero are representative of a class I call “community identity” (CI) issues. They involve feelings, which are ill-structured and volatile, rather than “interests” or “preferences.” They also involve complex moral judgments. Policy analysis has little or nothing to say about how to decide about such issues. This paper is an attempt to begin to fill this gap. The recommended approach is to begin with a calculus involving post-resolution “satisfactions” and “grievances,” analogous to “benefits minus costs.” But these purely utilitarian ideas must usually be adjusted by passing relevant interests through a moral filter, such as justice or equity, and a consideration of post-resolution “civility.” A number of ideas are suggested as to how political leaders can ameliorate potential grievances and therefore improve the odds for civility to be preserved. The analysis is built largely on 17 examples of CI issues chosen so as to fill out the qualitative variants one might find in this issue class, ranging from highly controversial matters like the Islamic Center to a less disputed choice of the Bald Eagle as the American national bird. 2
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“Who and What Are We Anyhow?” Contested Symbols of Community Identity Eugene Bardach There is a class of issues about which normative policy analysis has almost nothing to say, or at any rate nothing very clear. I call these issues of “community identity” (CI). It includes issues such as whether the Islamic Cultural Center (the “Cordoba Center”) 1 near Ground Zero should be built where planned or moved some distance away. On the one hand, if “we are a nation” of tolerance and pluralism, those principles seem to argue for “build where planned.” On the other, if “we are a nation that stands up for itself,” and “a nation that respects the memories of the dead,” then should not the Cordoba Center be built in a place where it does not seem to violate these principles? Or should its architectural appearance and even its basic purposes not be somehow altered with these ideas in mind? What if anything does policy analysis have to say about such questions, which have a large symbolic component as well as a tangency to deep questions of “who and what we are”? Not much of consequence. In this paper I hope at least to begin a conversation about altering this situation. It might be first word on this type of issue, but I hope it will not be the last. Consider, briefly, the three biggest guns that policy analysis can roll out and
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This note was uploaded on 07/21/2011 for the course BUS 10001 taught by Professor All during the Spring '11 term at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology.

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4006.1 - Who and What Are We Anyhow? Contested Symbols of...

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