Policy Communication

… a core topic in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Topic description

This topic examines the role of communication in the policy process.

Topic learning outcome

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

Core concepts associated with this topic

Policy Argument

Policy Images

Policy Paradigm

Pal’s Comparison of Academic and Policy Research

Symbolic Representation and Narrative

Dunn’s Four-stage Process of Communicating Policy-relevant Knowledge

Cognitive Dissonance


Deep Core Beliefs

Postmodernist Policy Analysis

Candidate entries in Old Atlas


Recommended readings for 8 hours of preparation


Recommended readings in MPP and MPA courses


Concept comprehension questions

CCQ206.09.17. Among the statements a-d pertaining to Dunn’s four-stage process of communicating policy-relevant knowledge choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. William Dunn argues that the communication of policy-relevant knowledge is a four-stage process consisting of policy analysis, materials development, interaction, and knowledge utilization.

b. Dunn argues that the policy analyst at the centre of the cycle and supporting each stage, though only indirectly when it comes to knowledge utilization.

c. Dunn puts a strong emphasis on the range of techniques available for everything from problem definition to recommendations (including cost-benefit analysis), time series analysis, and the structure of policy arguments.

d. For Dunn, the knowledge utilization stage includes agenda-setting, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation, and policy assessment.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.20. Among the statements a-d pertaining to postmodernist policy analysis choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. The postmodernist policy analysis is also known as post-positivist, or constructivist analysis of policy design and implementation.

b. The postmodernist approach argues that our ideas, our beliefs, our norms, even our language, structure perception so deeply that we can perceive only hard facts.

c. For postmodernists, embracing the rational model means elevating experts, which, in turn, means choking democracy or the meaningful participation of non-expert, ordinary citizens.

d. For postmodernists, the categories of thought behind reasoned analysis are themselves constructed in political struggle, and nonviolent political conflict is conducted primarily through reasoned analysis, which means that reasoned analysis is necessarily political.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.21. Among the statements a-d pertaining to symbolic representation and narrative choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Policy communication is not only about analysis, but about persuasion through language and rhetorical strategies, whether deliberate or through unconscious art and instinct.

b. Deborah Stone highlights four modes of symbolic representation: narrative stories, synechdoches, metaphors, and ambiguity.

c. Narratives are stories that draw on the tropes of deep human experience: decline, loss, survival, triumph.

d. Synechdoche is the representation of the whole by a part or by a single instance such as representing disability, which has many dimensions, by an image of a person in a wheelchair.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

CCQ206.09.24. Among the statements a-d pertaining to Pal’s comparison of academic and policy choose the one that is invalid or choose e if all are reasonably valid.

a. Academic research usually explores theoretical issues and is curiosity driven while public policy research usually addresses a real-world problem and is aimed at finding solutions that work.

b. Whereas academic research is usually subject to deadlines such as those imposed by granting agencies or publishers, public policy research is not subject to such artificial limits and takes as long as needed to get the answer right.

c. Academic research is usually conducted in universities or think tanks while policy research can be conducted within government, and outside in think tanks, NGOs, businesses and media organizations.

d. The audience for academic research is typically other academics, experts, and specialists in the field while the audience for policy research is typically government officials, both senior appointed and elected, and the broad, interested public.

e. All of a-d are reasonably valid.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 3 September 2018.

Image: TNW, at https://thenextweb.com/future-of-communications/2015/11/23/five-trends-disrupting-communication/, accessed 2 September 2018.