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Fast Policy

Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism

Jamie Peck
Nik Theodore
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Fast Policy
    Book Description:

    We inhabit a perpetually accelerating and increasingly interconnected world, with new ideas, fads, and fashions moving at social-media speed. New policy ideas, especially "ideas that work," are now able to find not only a worldwide audience but also transnational salience in remarkably short order.

    Fast Policyis the first systematic treatment of this phenomenon, one that compares processes of policy development across two rapidly moving fields that emerged in the Global South and have quickly been adopted worldwide⎯conditional cash transfers (a social policy program that conditions payments on behavioral compliance) and participatory budgeting (a form of citizen-centric urban governance). Jamie Peck and Nik Theodore critically analyze the growing transnational connectivity between policymaking arenas and modes of policy development, assessing the implications of these developments for contemporary policymaking. Emphasizing that policy models do not simply travel intact from sites of invention to sites of emulation, they problematize fast policy as a phenomenon that is real and consequential yet prone to misrepresentation.

    Based on fieldwork conducted across six continents and in fifteen countries,Fast Policyis an essential resource in providing an extended theoretical discussion of policy mobility and in presenting a methodology for ethnographic research on global social policy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4407-4
    Subjects: Population Studies, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    J.P. and N.T.
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Policies without Borders
    (pp. xv-xxxii)

    It is often observed, in this self-conscious age of globalization, that we live in a perpetually accelerating and ever-more interconnected world. New ideas, fads, and fashions, in particular, seem to be moving at social-media speed. And newpolicyideas, especially those highly sought-after “ideas that work,” are apparently now able to find not only a worldwide audience but transnationalsaliencein remarkably short order. The rapid ascendency of silver-bullet policies in fields like microcredit programming and urban “creativity” strategies certainly seem to fit this profile, the various traces of which are not entirely ubiquitous, of course, but they are undeniably...

  6. Part I. In Pursuit of Fast Policy

    • 1 Geographies of Policy
      (pp. 3-29)

      The modern policymaking process may still be focused on centers of political authority, but networks of policy advocacy and activism now exhibit a precociously transnational reach; policy decisions made in one jurisdiction increasingly echo and influence those made elsewhere; and global policy “models” often exert normative power across significant distances. Today, sources, channels, and sites of policy advice encompass sprawling networks of human and nonhuman actors/actants, including consultants, web sites, practitioner communities, norm-setting models, conferences, guru performances, evaluation scientists, think tanks, blogs, global policy institutes, and best-practice peddlers, not to mention the more “hierarchical” influence of multilateral agencies, international development...

    • 2 Reflections: Pursuing Projects, Following Policies
      (pp. 30-42)

      How might the social-constructivist intuitions explored in the previous chapter inform a methodological strategy? As we have indicated, the methodological repertoire for critical policy studies in this area ideally ought to be an open and reflexive one, though roles must be reserved for those approaches that call attention to, and elucidate, the social content and context of policymaking processes and practices, at every stage from conception to execution. There will be a place for street-level implementation studies, for in-depth interviews with policymakers and takers, for textual and genealogical analysis, for ethnographic investigations of policymaking sites and arenas, and more. We...

  7. Part II. Social Policy as Practical Science

    • 3 New Ideas for New York City
      (pp. 45-84)

      New York City is a place of big ideas. During the Progressive Era, at the turn of the twentieth century, the city was a beacon for social-policy reform, forging innovations in public education and housing. By the end of the century, however, it had secured quite a different reputation, as a bastion of conservative and neoliberal experimentation around new forms of social control and regulation, such as zero-tolerance policing and work-based welfare reform, or workfare.¹ The city that had helped to construct the American welfare state, and the country’s liberal-urban settlement, was by the 1990s leading the way in doing...

    • 4 Globalizing Social-Policy Practice
      (pp. 85-130)

      Befitting Mexico’s symbolic status as the anointed birthplace of CCTs, as well as the country’s complex entanglement with multilateral policymaking circuits, the city of Puebla was the location for the inaugural international summit for this new generation of antipoverty programs, “the first of its kind to focus on operational and implementation issues related to CCTs.”¹ Funded by the World Bank, the 2002 conference brought together program managers and evaluators from eight countries with pioneering CCT programs—Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Turkey, and Mexico. It featured a day-long study tour of two Oportunidades facilities—in effect, a pilgrimage...

    • 5 Reflections: Tailwinds, Turning Points
      (pp. 131-144)

      What does the transnational field of CCT experimentation reveal about the logics and limits of fast policy? This interlude takes the form of a reflection on the preceding case study, with a view to teasing out issues of analytical pertinence, at least one step removed from the empirical details themselves. As such, it stands as a provisional and deliberately schematic conclusion to part 2 of this book, at the same time as it anticipates the comparative analysisacrossthe globalizing policy fields of conditional cash transfers and participatory budgeting in this book’s conclusion.

      At the outset, it must be acknowledged...

  8. Part III. Propagating Progressive Practice

    • 6 Porto Alegre as Participatory Laboratory
      (pp. 147-168)

      The Brazilian city of Porto Alegre has become synonymous with both the cause and the practice of progressive policymaking. The site, since the late 1980s, of a radical experiment in participatory democracy, Porto Alegre would subsequently become the principal host city—and spiritual home—of the World Social Forum.¹ Porto Alegre has come to be seen, in this latter sense, as a kind of anti-Davos, a paradoxical capital of the global justice movement, which as a “network of networks” of course eschews the very notion of coordinated control or hierarchical power. As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri wrote, during the...

    • 7 Democracy on the Move
      (pp. 169-209)

      The Shanghai World Expo of 2010 was dedicated to the theme “Better city, better life”—its vision being that of “Cities of Harmony,” where the problems of a rapidly urbanizing world would meet their match in the form of an unprecedented wave of urban innovation. A centerpiece of the event—touted as the largest and most expensive in history—was an Urban Best Practices Area, where about fifty cities from around the world were invited to showcase their achievements in building a better, more sustainable, and more livable city. Here, Porto Alegre, which had earlier rebranded its well-known PB model...

    • 8 Reflections: Headwinds, Hollowing Out
      (pp. 210-222)

      Participatory budgeting is a striking example of a conspicuously fast-moving policy, one that through its transnational movement might, at first blush, appear capable of transcending the local context to deliver substantially similar results in different places. That PB, in its polyvalent forms, has been implemented across six continents and by governments of widely varying political stripes speaks to the ways in which the model has been adapted to a (sometimes surprising) range of politico-institutional settings. The construction of PB as a “global best practice,” both by the left and by the right, albeit in different ways, is an indication of...

  9. Conclusion: Exploring (Fast) Policy Worlds
    (pp. 223-238)

    This book has been an exploration of two policy fields, both of which can trace some of their deepest roots to Latin America but which would eventually reach to every continent, in some form or another. Given that both policies—conditional cash transfers and participatory budgeting—became recognized and codified only in the 1990s, their rapid, long-distance diffusion to scores of jurisdictions in the space of less than a decade is testament to a certain speed of movement. The concept of fast policy that we have been seeking to operationalize and problematize here, however, cannot be reduced to a measure...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 239-266)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-288)
  12. Index
    (pp. 289-300)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)