Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Comes of Age
Policy analysis is a relatively young field, created in the 1960s as a way to introduce data and rationality into the decision-making process. In Beyond Machiavelli, Beryl A. Radin compares policy analysis in the 1960s with its practice in the 1990s, analyzing the transformations the profession has undergone since its birth and offering a provocative conception of its practice today.
All new professions go through a maturation process, but Radin points out that policy analysis is more susceptible to change because it is directly affected by shifting political values. The United States of the 1960s was characterized by a strong belief in progress, a trust in the public sector, and a reliance on experts. By the 1990s, Americans were less confident about the future, not as trustful of the government, and less willing to defer to so-called experts. Even so, the number and range of policy analysis jobs has grown markedly.
Radin explores the significant changes that have taken place in the field, including attitudes toward politics, skills and methodologies required, views about information and data, and shifts in modes of decision making. She includes profiles of six very diverse policy analysis organizations to illustrate these changes. While some argue that the 1960s were the golden day of the profession when decision makers listened to experts, Radin argues that the earlier version of the field held to traditions of elitism and secrecy and that policy analysis in the 1990s, pluralistic and open, is a more democratic American profession.
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