TRANSNATIONAL ACTORS AND POLICY DIFFUSION: IDEATIONAL PATHWAYS TOWARDS SUCCESSFUL DISABILITY POLICY DIFFUSION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
Haang'andu, Privilege 1979-
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Focusing on disability, this study examines the role of transnational actors in policy diffusion. Specifically, the study seeks to explain the contrast between transnational actors’ failure in disability policy diffusion in Southern Africa, and their success in domesticating Millennium Development Goals as a transnational framework of development policy. I focus on Millennium Development Goal 3 (i.e., Promotion of Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women) to draw contrasts and parallels between the two policy areas. Theoretically, this study is built on a constructivist paradigm that stresses the importance of ideas, social meanings, and cultural identities in policy design and implementation. The study contrasts this paradigm with the dominant institutional approach to policy diffusion, which focuses on the mediating role of political institutions in funneling transnational influence. In so doing, the study hypothesizes that the constructivist paradigm offers a more efficacious approach to transnational disability policy diffusion than the traditional, political-institutional approach. Methodologically, the study focuses on southern Africa and uses Malawi and Zambia as its case studies. The choice of these two cases was informed by several factors of analytical significance, among them: shared colonial legacies; close social and political ties; and similarities and diversities among their ethnic groups that sometimes spill over their borders. In addition, the two countries have important economic diversities that have a bearing on the demographic spread and the socio-cultural make up of their populations. The qualitative empirical analysis draws on content analysis and on 48 semi-structured interviews from government officials, transnational actors, and activists in disability and gender policies in Malawi and Zambia as its main data sources. The interviews were conducted from April 18 to August 30, 2018, in Lusaka (Zambia) and Lilongwe and Blantyre (Malawi). The main goal of the interviews was to compare how transnational actors, in collaboration with on-the-ground civil society allies, orchestrated policy diffusion in the attainment of MDG 3 against their strategies in disability policy diffusion. It is also in this study’s interest to investigate possible political and ideological contestations between neocolonial Western-centric agendas and autonomous African ideational domains. This project adds to the large body of literature that relies on the role of ideas in explaining policy change as well as stability. The study, particularly Chapter 3, which outlines the theoretical framework, also adds to the important debate about how ideas engender political power, ideological contestations as well as institutional and policy autonomy.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentJohnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
CommitteeHorwitz, Simonne; Johner, Randy; Mou, Haizhen; Schwartz, Elizabeth
Copyright DateAugust 2019
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