DILC and the ProblemLady; Phase 2, the state

The Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model (DILC) is a very cool heuristic for thinking about how some societal problems become issues, what industry does when the problems climb the political agenda and how the issues are (or aren’t) ‘resolved’.  Here’s a video starring its progenitors.  The DILC has five phases, and looks at three categories of actors in detail – those trying to get the issue onto the agenda, those trying to keep it off/to shape the problem into a soluble issue, and the state functionaries (elected and non-elected).

Last year I came up with the idea of each of these ideal types writing letters to an agony aunt during each of the phases, seeking her strategic advice.  I am posting these 15 (well, 16) letters and responses, one per day, over the next two weeks or so.

Today, Phase two, the state.

Dear ProblemLady,

those activists exploited the public’s fears. One little accident (not that many people died, and they were mostly poor.  Such panic) and there’s real pressure to be seen to be Doing Something.  What should we do so that we don’t end up Doing Something that creates public expectation that we will Do Something More, and also frightens off prospective investors?

State Tenured Anti-Tumult Under-Secretary, Questioning Undue Obstreperousness.

Dear Status Quo,

there’s nothing like some (right colour, right class) dead bodies- what sociologists call “focusing events” to move an item up the public agenda.  Doubtless your minister is being asked what he or she intends to do.  First, make no firm promises.  Repeat after me – “the Government recognises that many stakeholders are concerned about this issue. However, it is the government’s responsibility to take proportionate and reasonable action that balances the risks and the needs of all sectors of society. To that end the Minister is today announcing the creatoin of a blue ribbon taskforce… blah de blah de blah.”  You did graduate from Bureaucrat Academy, yes?

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