Policy Surrogates

4. The Policy Surrogate. In his discussion of the many causes of wicked resource- based policy conflict, Nie (2003) suggests that a key cause of conflict is the “policy surrogate.” Nie (p. 314) argues that “relatively straightforward policy problems can be turned wicked when they are used by political actors as a surrogate to debate larger and more controversial problems.” For environmental policy issues in the Western United States, this means that issues like bison management and snowmobile access are wrapped in larger persistent controversies of Western communities:
concerns about federalism, the role of public lands, and the fear of outsiders, to name a few. Our argument is that losing groups strategically entangle policy issues in larger, emotionally charged debates in an effort to gain a competitive advantage by expanding the scope of the policy issue. In short, these policy surrogates are used to ignite the larger controversies already simmering in the political culture and to mobilize opposition..

page 91 of  The Intersection of Narrative Policy Analysis and Policy Change Theory
Mark K. McBeth, Elizabeth A. Shanahan, Ruth J. Arnell, and Paul L. Hathaway

Nie, Martin A. 2003. “Drivers of Natural Resource-Based Political Conflict.” Policy Sciences 36: 307–41.

See also Issue Expansion


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