This paper is proposed for the panel “Emerging perspectives on policy change”
Starting from a critique of the latest varieties of capitalism (VoC) literature that concentrates mainly on the argument of institutional structures influencing State answers to the economic and financial crisis starting in Europe in 2008, this paper develops a sociological actor-centred approach, focused on the cognitive framing capacity of group of actors holding key resources and defining policy change strategies in order to gain power in a policy field. It combines a sociological constructivist perspective developed for the understanding of European policies (Saurugger 2013) with the programmatic action framework (Hassenteufel and al. 2010, Bandelow and Hornung, 2018) used for the (comparative) analysis of national policies. This sociological actor-centred approach attempts to answer the question of why and how power relations between policy actors change (or not) in crisis situation. It offers therefore not only remedies to the VoC literature, which concentrates mainly on institutional parameters and institutional change, but also to contextual approaches analysing crises as critical junctures (Saurugger, 2016). The changes we observed, in a collective research combining the analysis of European, international and national policies in times of crisis in the last decade, are mainly incremental at the national level and more important at the European and international level. The explanation we provide stresses the degree of cohesion between groups of elites – hence collective actors more than individual policy entrepreneurs – at different policy levels and their political work for reframing public policy orientations, in order to understand why power relations shift or not and in which direction during the crisis.
Hassenteufel, Patrick, Marc Smyrl, William Genieys, and Francisco Javier Moreno-Fuentes. 2010. "Programmatic Actors and the Transformation of European Health Care States." Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 35 (4): 517–38. doi: 10.1215/03616878-2010-015.
Hornung, Johanna, and Nils C. Bandelow. 2018. "The Programmatic Elite in German Health Policy: Collective Action and Sectoral History." Public Policy and Administration. doi: 10.1177/0952076718798887.
Saurugger, S. (2013), ‘Constructivism and Public Policy Approaches in the EU. From Ideas to Power Games’, Journal of European Public Policy, 2013, 20(6), 888-906
Saurugger, S. (2016), ‘Sociological Approaches to the European Union in times of turmoil’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 2016, 54(1), 70-86