As interesting as our politics might be with the kinds of changes outlined by

As interesting as our politics might be with the

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As interesting asour politics might be withthe kinds of changes outlined by proponents ofparticipatory and criticalpolicy analysis,we do not need these changes to justify our investment in policy analysis.Policy analysis already involves discourse, introduces ideas into politics, and affects policy outcomes. The problem is not that policymakers refuse to understand the value of traditional policy analysis or that policy analysts have not learned to be properly interactive with stakeholders and reflective of multiple and nontechnocratic perspectives. The problem, in my view, is only that policy analysts, policymakers, and observers alike do not recognize policy analysis for what it is. Policy analysis has changed, right along with the policy process, to become the provider of ideas and frames, to help sustain the discourse that shapes citizen preferences, and to provide the appearance of rationality in an increasingly complex political environment. Regardless of what the textbooks say, there does not need to be a client in order for ideas from policy analysis to resonate through the policy environment.10Certainly there is room to make our politics more inclusive. But those critics who see policy analysis as a toolof the power elite might be less concerned if they understood that analysts are only adding to the debate—they are unlikely to be handing ready-made policy solutions to elite decisionmakers for implementation. Analysts themselves might be more contented if they started appreciating the appropriation of their ideas by the whole gamut of policy participants and stopped counting the number of times their clients acted upon their proposedsolutions. And the cynics disdainful of the purported objectivism of analysis might relax if analysts themselves would acknowledge that they are seeking not truth, but to elevatethe level of debate witha compelling, evidence-based presentationof their perspectives. Whereas critics call, unrealisticallyin my view, for analysts topresent competing perspectives on an issue or to “design a discourse among multiple perspectives,” I see no reason why an individual analyst must do thiswhen multiple perspectives are already in abundance, brought by multiple analysts. If we would acknowledge that policy analysis does not occur under a private, contractual process whereby hired hands advise only their clients, we would not worry that clients get only one perspective.Policy analysis is used, far more extensivelythan is commonly believed. Its use could be appreciated and expanded if policymakers, citizens, and analysts themselves began to present it more accurately, not as a comprehensive, problem-solving, scientific enterprise, but as a contributor to informed discourse. For years Lindblom [1965, 1968, 1979, 1986, 1990] has argued that we should understand policy analysis for the limited tool that it is—just one of severalroutes to social problem solving, and an inferior route at that. Although I have learned much from Lindblom on this odyssey from traditional to interpretive policy analysis, my point is different. Lindblom sees analysis as having a
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