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August 1992
376 pages  

6 x 9
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History and Context in Comparative Public Policy
Ashford, Douglas
Through a series of essays, this volume argues that every political system is based on a substratum of shared intentions, meanings, and rules of conduct embedded in a culture.

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Douglas E. Ashford was Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Pittsburgh.
“A benchmark contribution. Its theme is that policy studies constitute the one area of research in political science that best lends itself to interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives and historical frameworks of analysis. . . . It stands as a broad survey of the field of comparative policy studies as well as a testament to the importance of this area of inquiry.”—Journal of Policy History

“This volume is a thoughtful and challenging contribution of ideas to a post-positivist agenda.”—American Politics Review

“Those who think this volume will be of interest only to those pursuing comparative public policy will miss a major work on the nature and future of our discipline. . . . In one way or another all of the essays portray the limitations that behavioral analysis has imposed on the discipline. They also present arguments for alternative approaches to understanding public policy broadly defined as the 'why' of politics.”—Journal of Politics

“The contributors to this volume reflect the diversity of approaches and interpretations which result from taking history and context seriously in policy studies. Their essays also make contributions independently to a variety of sub-fields in political science.”—Canadian Journal of Political Science

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Political Science/Policy, Theory, Law

Douglas E. Ashford joins a growing number of scholars who have questioned the behavioralist assumptions of much policy science. The essays in this volume show why policy analysis cannot be confined to prevailing methods of social science. Policy-making behavior involves historical, contextual, and philosophical factors that also raise critical questions about the concepts and theory of the discipline. Ashford asks difficult questions about the contextual, conjunctural, and unintentional circumstances that affect actual decision-making. His bridging essays summarize opposing viewpoints and conflicting interpretations to help form a new agenda for comparative policy analysis.


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