Politics One

Fourth edition

by Ian Ward and Randal G. Stewart

Policy and politics in a global setting

Quick e-introduction to policy:

Further reading suggestions

  • Woodward, D. 2004. Australia Unsettled. The Legacy of ‘Neo-liberalism’(Frenchs Forrest: Pearson Education) Chapter 2 ‘Australia and the Global Economy’ sets a discussion of globalisation in a useful historical context.
  • Cook, I. 2004. Government and Democracy in Australia. (Melbourne: Oxford University Press.) Chapter 12 examines different perspectives on globalisation and their implications for government and democracy in Australia.
  • Beeson, M. 2004. ‘National Policy in the Global Era’ In P. Boreham, G. Stokes and R. Hall (eds) The Politics of Australian Society. 2nd edn. (Frenchs Forrest: Longman). Long-term structural changes in the international economy present Australian governments with ‘a complex array of threats and opportunities’.
  • Vromen, K.A., Gelber, K. and Gauja, A. 2008. Powerscape: Contemporary Australian politics 2nd edn. (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin). Chapters 12 and 13 on policy analysis and policy delivery.

A further note on governance 
Governance is a term we introduced in chapter one. It is used to describe new processes of governing, including the increased use of market mechanisms and private providers to achieve policy outcomes. It implies that the ordered rule of late modern societies such as Australia requires interaction between government and stakeholders in areas such as social welfare, education and the environment. Unfortunately the term is used in differing ways: however at its core governance refers to the development of governing styles in which blur boundaries between the public and private sectors and which ‘do not rest on recourse to the authority and sanctions of government’ (Stoker 1998, 17). 

Stoker (1998, 17) argues that the term government refers to ‘the formal institutions of the state and their monopoly of legitimate coercive power. Government is characterised by its ability to make decisions and its capacity to enforce them’—to steer the ship of state! Our purpose in Politics One is to explain how the institutions and processes of national government function to maintain order and accommodate the competing policy demands that Australians make upon governments. 

However many political scientists believe that, in an new era of globalisation, the governments of late modern societies (such as Australia) now have a limited capacity to steer social and economic change. Governments are constrained on the one-hand by global economic pressures and, on the other, by a web of domestic linkages which limit their capacity to act effectively. From this vantage point the management of complex societies can not be achieved via governments exercising their regulatory and coercive powers alone. The design and implementation of policy—govening—requires a considerable degree of cooperation from economic and other social actors—and in particular, a cooperative relationship between the public and private sectors. In this context it may be argued that policy settings are too readily influenced by businesses who are the key economic ‘stakeholders’ on which governments rely. 

Stoker, G. ‘Governance as Theory: Five Propositions’, International Social Science Journal, V. 50 (155) pp.17-28 

Discussion point 
How does global warming as a policy issue underline the limited capacity that the Australian government has to deal with issues that confront it?