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Interest groups, professions and public policy change: The case of Paris Transport -- 1968-1976.

Webster, Andrew Malcolm (1990) Interest groups, professions and public policy change: The case of Paris Transport -- 1968-1976. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis examines theories of policy change by applying them to the specific problem of understanding a striking and apparently contradictory shift in Paris Transport policy in the early 1970s. The existing literature, which applies ecological and marxist theories of policy development to urban policy in France is reviewed, and several recent theorisations of pluralist policy making, and state centred theories of policy development are introduced. Previous work on urban policy and transport issues is criticised for an over reliance on functional explanations and contextual evidence. The introduction concludes by comparing state centred approachs to explaining policy change and draws together a number of hypotheses about the specific case of Parisian urban policy making from the models developed in Britain and the USA for applying pluralist, intergovernmental relations and policy networks models to policy analysis. The main body of the thesis is then divided into three parts. Part 1 sketches out the historical backcloth to the regional plan adopted in the late 1960s, and identifies the forces generating social conflict around regional development, and a fiscal crisis within the transport services themselves. In this context the remarkable continuity of policy dilemmas and the power and influence of professions contrast with the political and administrative instability of the Paris region over the last two hundred years. Part 2 analyses the rapid changes in professional thinking on regional development, and transport programmes in particular and shows how this technical re-appraisal of objectives and management undermined the Regional Plan. The argument analyses changes in ideology among key engineers and managers in the context of the explosion of public discontent about transport services in the region which occurred in 1970. The collapse of public and professional confidence in the Regional Plan's solutions led directly: to new strategic priorities favouring public transport over road construction; to new management with greater autonomy from Government in the public transport companies; to the adoption of new planning techniques; to formal consumer participation in transport planning and most importantly to reduced fares for consumers and increased taxes for employers. The remarkable fact of a Conservative Government undertaking so clear and perceptible a redistribution away from capital to labour points to the significance of the policy change which took place. Part 3 switches attention from strategy to policy implementation. Two contrasting projects are described in detail from conception to operation, revealing the variety of local political processes which emerged from strategic policy change, and illustrating the increased capacity of consumer organisations to secure changes in public services. The extension of the Metro to Asnieres-Gennevilliers demonstrates that municipal politics had re-emerged, in alliance with consumerism and community politics, to create a new decentralised local policy making arena more consistent with the provincial conservatism of Giscard and the pluralist socialism of Mitterrand in the late 1970s. However, the continuing role of national political forces in regional development emerges strongly from a consideration of the construction of the central section of the RER. The thesis concludes that while pluralist explanations, especially the 'broker' state model have much to offer in understanding the political processes in the period concerned, they are unable to cope with the overdetermination of outcomes. Empirically, it is not possible to distinguish between a 'broker' state and more state centred models of policy change. This proves particularly difficult in the disaggregated and rapidly changing policy process which emerged in the latter part of the period in question. Theories of 'professionalised policy networks' are judged to have greatest explanatory power in this case. However, the static nature of policy networks approaches presents difficulties when analysing policy fields which are characterised by high levels of competition, policy stress and rapid changes in professional thinking and inter-agency relationships. The study therefore concludes with some reflections on the dynamics of policy networks and suggests ways in which the approach might be refined for the analysis of change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Public and Social Welfare, Urban and Regional Planning, Transportation
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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