Ideas and the Policy Process

… a core topic in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Topic description

This topic examines the role of ideas in shaping policy outcomes.

Topic learning outcome

Upon completing this topic the student will be familiar with the major frameworks for analyzing the role of ideas in shaping policy outcomes, and with the concepts listed below.

Core concepts associated with this topic
The Role of Ideas in Policymaking

Contradictions of Liberal Democracy

Utilitarianism Political Left

Political Right

Candidate entries in Old Atlas


Recommended readings for 8 hours of preparation


Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses


Concept comprehension questions

CCQ206.09.19. Among the statements a-d pertaining to the role of ideas in policy making choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The stream of work in the policy sciences that emphasizes the role of ideas claims that there are no such things as “facts” or “reality.”

b. Ideas are not merely individual biases, but collective ideational frameworks that help policy analysts, decisionmakers, and other actors make sense of the world.

c. A policy paradigm is a framework of ideas and standards that specifies not only the goals of policy and the kind of instruments that can be used to attain them, but also the very nature of the problems they are meant to be addressing.

d. Depending on how deep these ideas are buried, and how fundamental they are for our interpretation of the world, they may not even be noticed.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 10 November 2019.

Image: RSA Ideas, at, accessed 1 September 2018.