Instrument Constituencies

Groups of people (academics, business folk, policy makers, activists) who coalesce around a favoured policy solution (emissions trading, REDD, CCS, whatever) and try to ‘push it’ as a/the solution to the world’s ills.

“In the policy studies literature, constituency dynamics can be reflected in a multiple-streams model of the policy process. In this framework, it is recognised that ‘advocates of solutions look for current problems to which to attach their pet solution’ (Kingdon 2003, p. 123) and that ‘they push their ideas in many different forums. These entrepreneurs attempt to “soften up” both policy communities … and larger publics, getting them used to new ideas and building acceptance for their proposals. Then, when a short-run opportunity to push their proposal comes, the way has been paved’ (pp. 128–129). Our perspective suggests that we can catch a glimpse of instrument constituencies here. Instrument constituencies can also be contrasted to other types of social formations, such as policy communities, advocacy coalitions, epistemic communities, and discourse coalitions. While instrument constituencies resemble and, in some respects, overlap with these other social formations, there are also some important differences.”

(Voss and Simons, 2014:740)


“Unlike policy communities, advocacy coalitions, and epistemic communities, 2 instrument constituencies are not necessarily held together by substantial and shared convictions, but primarily by the entanglement of practices, which may become reflected and strategically coordinated. In a sense, instruments work as ‘boundary objects’, defined as ‘objects which are both plastic enough to adapt to local needs and the constraints of the several parties employing them, yet robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites’ (Star and Griesemer 1989, p. 393).”

(Voss and Simons, 2014:741-2)

Great paper by Voss and Simons in Environmental Politics, 2014,  Instrument constituencies and the supply side of policy innovation: the social life of emissions trading
See also epistemic communities, policy stream of MSA, garbage cantechnology-specific advocacy coalitions

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