Policy Learning

A core concept within Advocacy Coalition Framework it is a “relatively enduring alteration in thought or behavioral intention on the part of a coalition” (Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1993).

In the ACF, a causal mechanism for policy change is policy-oriented learning that results from “. . . experience and/or new information” (Jenkins-Smith & Sabatier, 1993, p. 42; Sabatier & Jenkins-Smith, 1999, p. 123) altering belief systems in the policy subsystem.8 Minor policy change may occur over time, through a process called “enlightenment” (Sabatier, 1991, p. 148) whereby new information is introduced, and advocacy coalitions iteratively integrate this new policy knowledge, converging on policy beliefs that result in a policy outcome. As can be imagined, the role of scientific information in such a process is typically an important one.

p.548 of Shanahan, E. Jones, M. and McBeth, M. 2011. Policy Narratives and Policy Processes. Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 39 (3). pp.535-561.


It is unclear to this author who learns anything under almost any circumstances. But the present author has become old and cynical and, frankly, is ready for the scrap heap…


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