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Public policy and legitimacy: a historical policy analysis of the interplay of public policy and legitimacy
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Evaluation Research (UCER).
2003 (English)In: Policy sciences, ISSN 0032-2687, E-ISSN 1573-0891, Vol. 36, no 3-4, 257-278 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the interplay of local government policy and legitimacy from a broad postpositivist perspective where historical accounts and narratives are used in a complementary fashion. The basic assumption is that legitimacy is the product of satisfying felt needs and solving perceived problems. Health and social malaise problems and related policies of the past 120 years are analyzed in 50 Swedish municipalities. The analysis indicates that municipality policies respond to local problems only partly. Generally, local government policies responded dynamically to ''objective" and perceived problems before the 1970s, but did not resolve the problems. Today's legitimacy crisis could, to some extent, be explained by the discrepancy between high expectations created in the policy discourse and the central and local government's incapacity to offer sustainable solutions to ongoing problems. It is suggested that if history is considered more seriously in public policy making it could help policy makers and citizens readjust expectations, illuminate the limits and prospects for public policy, and identify ways to restore legitimacy. Moreover, legitimacy could be restored if more realistic policies are worked out and if a new division of power between the levels of government is introduced.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer , 2003. Vol. 36, no 3-4, 257-278 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-40087DOI: 10.1023/B:OLIC.0000017471.88620.9aOAI: diva2:397876
Available from: 2011-02-21 Created: 2011-02-16 Last updated: 2011-02-21Bibliographically approved

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