Prostitution Policy Reform and the Causal Role of Ideas: A Comparative Study of Policy-Making in the Nordic Countries
19 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2009
Date Written: 2009
In this study, we focus on the causal role of ideas for understanding how proponents of a given prostitution policy reform are able to secure support from policymakers. Over the past decade, the use of an ideational approach has shifted from the margins to the mainstream in comparative public policy analysis. Ideational approaches emphasize how policy entrepreneurs are able to portray desired reforms as being consistent with broader ideational frameworks held by key decision makers. Thus, by carefully studying how actors use ideas to achieve policy change, the ideational approach is an advance over approaches that have chiefly focused on the strategic resources held by actors within varying institutional contexts. Given that a central feature of the prostitution policy reform process in all four settings has been exceptionally heated national debates in which societal norms, expert knowledge and cultural values have figured prominently, we argue that an ideational approach is particularly fruitful for analyzing cross-Nordic variation in policy outcomes.
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