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Managing wicked policy problems: A case for deliberative practices

Janeczko, Luke Samuel (2011) Managing wicked policy problems: A case for deliberative practices. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Demanding policy issues require responses that are both effective and legitimate. Wicked problems are examples of such demanding issues. In contrast to tame policy issues, wicked problems can be distinguished when levels of uncertainty, value divergence, and complexity reach high levels. Examples of wicked problems include issues such as climate change, illicit drug use, and indigenous disadvantage. This thesis puts forward the case for using deliberative democratic practices (in conjunction with typical policy development methods) when working with wicked problems.

Deliberative democracy aims to promote greater legitimacy in decisions as a result of public consultation. Deliberative democracy can create better outcomes as a result of rigorous engagement and deliberation over a topic, and more inclusion in the political process for those groups who have typically found themselves alienated from politics. Such aims and principles lend themselves to good policy development.

Typical policy development methods may not be sufficiently flexible to devise effective and long lasting solutions to wicked problems. By using deliberative practices in conjunction with typical policy development methods, the policy process becomes more flexible and adaptive to work with the ever-changing nature of a wicked problem. The principles and aims of deliberative democracy can make wicked problems appear more manageable by creating legitimacy in decisions as a result of public consultation, bridge the gap between different parties’ value divergence, and possibly even change the mind of participants in the deliberation by invoking thought and reason.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Dudley, Janice
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