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ECPR General Conference 2020, University of Innsbruck

Governing the Boundaries of the Policy Making Process Through Reframing: the Obesity Policy in The Netherlands.

Governance
 
Institutions
 
Policy Analysis
 
Public Policy
 
Presenter
Gerard Breeman
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Authors
Gerard Breeman
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Marcello Van Teijlingen
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden

Abstract
Governance, as understood in the political sciences is a multi-actor activity in which the role of government actors seems to become increasingly blurred. It is commonly accepted that citizens, NGOs, private companies, thinktanks, academics et cetera, play their parts in the governing of society, whereas the role of the government in governance processes has been fragmented into facilitator, emancipator, initiator, evaluator, judge, decision maker, and leader. The main questions in governance processes remain, who determines which actors get access to the governance arena and who decides on the rules of the game, or in Scharpf’s words: who determines the actor constellations and the modes of interactions?
In this paper we illustrate how the Dutch government is the game setter in the national obesity policy. That is, she has chosen to leave it up to the self-governing abilities of the industry and the retail and the responsibilities of its citizens. It is up to them to tackle the problem of obesity. We show that the government has determined this mode of interaction by reframing the message from an important scientific advisory council to the government (wrr), from a strongly alarming frame about health problem among obese citizens to a more soothing frame of consumer’s own responsibility to buy healthy food. Hence, the self-governing modus is set through a rather subtle process of reframing. At the end of the paper we propose to adjust Scharpf’s Actor-Centered Institutionalist framework so it can account for the hierarchical intervention of a government who set the governing boundaries through the reframing of the messages of other societal actors.
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