Comparative Report: Core Ideas in Urban Policy Innovations - Wilco Project


Having identified the context of innovations in local welfare in the first part of the WILCO project, attention was focussed on the nature of the innovations themselves at a later stage. In doing so, a distinction was made between the core ideas behind local welfare and the concrete approaches and instruments through which local welfare is implemented. This report explains the basic work steps aimed to understand local policy orientations and values in regard to welfare initiatives, which were normally produced in the political arena by politicians, technicians or experts, and the scientific community. In order to understand why decisions have been taken or not, we have tried to comprehend values and politics, technical constraints, and – in particular – expert discourses, which were developed by local epistemic communities. The latter defined the core ideas of what good local welfare practices were, i.e. what successful or innovative efforts aiming to combat social inequality or to encourage social cohesion looked like. They were not only responsible for the coherence of local discourses regarding how policies have to be implemented or problems have to be interpreted; they were also related to other networks of specialists and stakeholders, which created convergences between cities and policies at all levels of regulation.

There are at least two approaches to analysing core values – that of Sabatier, who assumes that there exist coalitions of values (or belief systems) and power relationships between these coalitions in specific policy fields (or constellations of actors); and that of Jobert and Muller, who analyse, from the point of view of the public administration, what global and sectorial value orientations (which they call referential) are. We aimed to combine those two approaches by not only describing general and sectorial orientations, or configurations of coalitions of differences, but by simultaneously focusing on the coherences and contrasts between majorities and minorities, and between general orientations of the public administration and sectorial ones.

Comparative Report: Urban Policy Innovation Core Ideas