Seeing Transparency More Clearly

Public Administration Review, Forthcoming

Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-643

20 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2019 Last revised: 21 Nov 2019

See all articles by David Pozen

David Pozen

Columbia University - Law School

Date Written: October 30, 2019


In recent years, transparency has been proposed as the solution to, and the cause of, a remarkable range of public problems. The proliferation of seemingly contradictory claims about transparency becomes less puzzling, this essay argues, when one appreciates that transparency is not, in itself, a coherent normative ideal. Nor does it have a straightforward instrumental relationship to any primary goals of governance. To gain greater purchase on how transparency policies operate, scholars must therefore move beyond abstract assumptions and drill down into the specific legal, institutional, historical, political, and cultural contexts in which these policies are crafted and implemented. The field of transparency studies, in other words, is due for a "sociological turn."

Keywords: transparency, open government law and policy, public administration, research methods

Suggested Citation

Pozen, David E., Seeing Transparency More Clearly (October 30, 2019). Public Administration Review, Forthcoming; Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-643. Available at SSRN:

David E. Pozen (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics