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Decent Work in Scotland: An Agenda-Setting Analysis

This blog is based on an article in the Journal of Social Policy. Click here to access the article.

New policy concepts, framing policy problems in unconventional ways and offering different perspectives and different policy solutions, often face challenging obstacles when it comes to attracting the attention of those in the policy community with the power to make policy decisions.

Our recently published research further demonstrates this, using the example of how the issue of job quality – conceptualised as ‘fair work’ and ‘decent work’ – was discussed in Scotland between 2013 and 2017. In charting how the issue of job quality developed ‘a life’ and gained traction in Scotland, and how it was ultimately blocked on its way onto the governmental agenda, we used as our analytical tool John Kingdon’s tried and tested ‘multiple streams framework’. Our aim was to understand why, despite the efforts of a variety of policy entrepreneurs and the apparent openness of the Scottish Government to the challenge of addressing job quality, the issue ultimately did not arrive squarely on the Scottish Government’s decision agenda.

What did we find out? According to Kingdon, a ‘policy window’ is required for a policy concept to be successful and make possible policy change. First, we established that between 2013 and 2016 the conditions for job quality becoming an issue to be seriously considered by the Scottish Government were more conducive than ever before. Second, however, the crucial policy window did not open due to…

Continue at the Social Policy Blog


Image: United Nations [Public domain]