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Between Colliding Worlds

Between Colliding Worlds: The Ambiguous Existence of Government Agencies for Aboriginal and Women's Policy

Jonathan Malloy
  • Book Info
    Between Colliding Worlds
    Book Description:

    Jonathan Malloy'sBetween Colliding Worldsexamines the relationship between governments and external activists through a comparative study of policy units dedicated to aboriginal and women's issues in Australia and Canada. Malloy identifies these units - or 'special policy agencies' - as sitting on the boundary between the world of permanent public servants and that of collective social movements working for broad social and political change. These agencies at once represent the interests of social movements to government while simultaneously managing relations with social movements on behalf of government, and - thus - operate in a state of permanent ambiguity.

    Malloy contends that rather than criticizing these agencies for their inherently contradictory nature, we must reconsider them as effectively dealing with the delicate issue of bridging social movements with state politics. In other words, the very existence of these special policy agencies provides a forum for social movements and the state to work out their differences.

    Relying heavily on interviews with public servants and external activists, Malloy argues convincingly that special policy agencies, despite - or because of - their ambiguous relationship to different communities, make critical contributions to governance.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7131-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    In recent decades governments have created a variety of state structures linked to social movements and activist communities. In some cases, such as women’s issues, the creation of such structures is largely in response to demands from the movements themselves. In other instances, most notably in aboriginal affairs, units are created by governments without explicit demands from external activists.

    The purposes of these units vary considerably. Some are expressly charged with advancing the interests and status of their corresponding social group; others are merely expected to ‘manage’ the issue area on behalf of governing authorities. Many observers argue that most...

  6. 2. Special Policy Agencies
    (pp. 17-46)

    What exactly are special policy agencies? How do they differ from other state structures? Why are they created and how common are they? And what has been previously said about them? This chapter discusses such questions in several ways. It lays out a formal definition, distinguishes policy agencies from other structures and institutions, and reviews the different forms they may take. It also discusses the creation of special policy agencies and key factors precipitating their creation. Once we have an idea of what agencies do and what they look like, why they were created, and how they differ from other...

  7. 3. The Colliding Worlds
    (pp. 47-83)

    Now that we know more about special policy agencies themselves, we can explore in greater detail the ongoing pressures placed on them by the social movement and public administration environments. This chapter explores these environments and the differences in their values, orientations, and other characteristics, arguing that they are best understood as completely different worlds, which collide together in special policy agencies. I emphasize in particular how each world demands loyalty and conformity from structures including special policy agencies and discuss two other types of state structures – advisory councils and horizontal ministries – that have largely collapsed under just...

  8. 4. Political Change and the Ontario Women’s Directorate
    (pp. 84-109)

    The first aspect of special policy agencies we will examine is how the colliding worlds interact in relation to political change. In Chapter 2 we saw that special policy agencies are created for a variety of reasons and often lack clear and widely accepted mandates. Because of this agencies are exceptionally vulnerable to changes in governing parties, leaders, and ideologies. When political change occurs, agencies are affected or even transformed to a much greater degree than more stable and entrenched state structures. They are often instructed to shift their loyalties and orientations away from one environment towards another. This shift...

  9. 5. Aboriginal Policy Agencies in Ontario and British Columbia
    (pp. 110-135)

    While special policy agencies are affected by changes in governing parties and ideologies, they are also highly sensitive to the expectations of other actors. This chapter examines the 1990s–era B.C. Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs (MAA) and the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat (ONAS), and shows how the norms and expectations of the two environments are replicated bydifferent groups of public servantseven in the absence of explicit movement demands. (Although the MAA no longer exists in its 1990s form,¹ this analysis will focus on its experiences in that decade.)

    Like the Ontario Women’s Directorate and other women’s policy agencies...

  10. 6. Special Policy Agencies under New Public Management
    (pp. 136-176)

    The two preceding chapters examined how political change and relations with other public servants contribute to the dilemmas of special policy agencies caught between the colliding pressures of the two worlds. In this chapter, I investigate a third and increasingly important dynamic – the effects of ‘new public management’ (NPM) on special policy agencies, looking particularly at agencies in the Australian states of Victoria and Western Australia.

    ‘New public management’ is a general phrase used to describe a number of developments in public administration and management since the 1980s. Although definitions vary, both proponents and critics of new public management...

  11. 7. The Permanent Ambiguity of Special Policy Agencies
    (pp. 177-188)

    This study has shown that special policy agencies exist between two colliding worlds of assumptions and demands, have unclear and shifting mandates, and rest on unsteady political and ideological foundations. As a result, special policy agencies are most notable for the contradictions, ambivalence, and divided loyalties that follow from their natural state of role conflict and role ambiguity. While there are some reasons for optimism, such as a possible broker role for aboriginal policy agencies or new public management’s focus on results over rules, the previous chapters have generally painted a picture of permanent structural ambiguity and ongoing dilemmas for...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 189-212)
  13. Index
    (pp. 213-217)