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Depoliticising policy advice?

Alberta Giorgi
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra
Alberta Giorgi
Centro de Estudos Sociais, University of Coimbra
Emanuele Polizzi
Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca
Open Panel

Abstract

As a consequence of economic globalisation and in connection with the emergence of international political institution, the territorial level of decision and implementation of policies multiplied. At the same time, advisors have been more and more included within decisional process either for their expertise or as civil society representatives and stakeholders. In the literature, policy advice is in debate because of its potentially ‘political’, rather than neutral, character. Nevertheless, it occurs that political representatives use allegedly neutral policy advices in order to enhance political decision. Presenting political objectives as ‘necessary’, with reference to scientific policy advices, governments depoliticise public decisions. We focus on the municipality of Milano (Italy), comparing two different set of policies (city urban plans and social services on mental care) from a historical perspective (1990-2010). Specifically, we focus on normative documents and municipal council debates. Our hypotheses are that (1) the city government is more and more relying on scientific advice for its policy decisions; (2) that the use of science as policy arguments is spread in different fields of policies; and (3) that scientific arguments are used as proofs of necessity of intervention, without possibility of public discussion. Thus, through the analysis of scientific arguments treated as ‘untouchable truth’ we aim to discuss the changes in the relations between expertise and politics.