Frameworks for Analysis

Week 3

Learning objectives:

  • Identify the four functions of any government (E, L, A, J)
  • Describe the relationship between government and governance
  • Describe the role of political parties
  • Explain the importance of civil society and public space
  • Describe how political infrastructure can enable or restrict public participation in policy making
  • Describe connections between governance, economy, society, and security
  • Describe the “policy marketplace” (Milne)
  • Explain some of the links between the four quadrants illustrated (governance, security, society, and economy)

What are the general structures of society and government, which affect science and technology policy and innovation?


The long list of learning objectives for this week reflects the need for at least a superficial understanding of politics, government, society, economy, and even security before we go further.  The Smardon text goes deeply into the Canadian case, but we need to place the concepts introduced last week into a framework that makes sense of how key actors within any state behave, so we can see the Canadian case as a special example.  This will be easier for students with a background in political science (e.g. POE102 Introduction to Political Science, or POE205 Canadian Civics and Society). If students can describe the key relationships in the learning objectives above, then we will focus on Smardon’s description of alternative explanations of technological development.

We will plan to spend the first two periods of week 3 on the framework questions (from the learning objectives,

Required reading

Last (2010) Institutions of government and governance, course notes.  This should be a review of material covered in introductory political science courses like POE102 and POE205.

The policy market place (Milne) – a thumbnail sketch of Ottawa’s policy environment.

Smardon (2014) Chapter 1, “Promoting domestic technological capacities: state strategies and social antagonisms,”

  • explanation 1: national systems of innovation theory
  • explanation 2: institutionalist theory
  • explanation 3: the developmental state
  • explanation 4: varieties of capitalism
  • institutionalism and equilibrium outcomes
  • political struggle and technological change

Listen to two extracts from the debate about government action on the economy:

Optional reading

Beutelsbach consensus – educators should not be trying to overwhelm or indoctrinate students. In this spirit, my bias is unapologetic. I am a public servant; the state is important; markets don’t always serve the public interest; good governance is important. The optional readings this week are intended to put neoliberal world views and policy prescriptions into perspective, and give you essential tools for critical analysis of what has become mainstream thinking.

Blyth, M. (2013). Austerity: the history of a dangerous idea. Oxford University Press. There are two good videos on this: a short clip (5 minutes) and a longer video (56 minutes). I want you to understand the interests at stake in the neoliberal prescription for market driven policies.  In his introduction, Blyth goes back to John Locke’s imagining of the functioning of the economy and the role of the state. And here’s a link to an article summarizing the book’s main argument.

Mirowski, P. (2013). Never let a serious crisis go to waste: How neoliberalism survived the financial meltdown. Verso Books. Chapter 2, “Shock Block Doctrine”  If Blyth describes the problems with neoliberal ideas, Mirowski helps to explain how they became mainstream, and survived the events that should have led them to be more widely questioned. In particular, look at the expanding reach of the MPS-related think tanks (pp. 12-14/36) and the alleged intent of the neo-liberal agenda to reshape the role of the state (p. 19). Because the course is concerned with science policy that serves the public interest, this understanding is important.


Complete required reading and prepare for seminar.

Are there security concerns associated with the Trans Pacific Partnership and how might they be managed?

Do foreign corporate takeovers represent national security threats, or is this a political issue designed to protect friends of the government?

What is Foreign Ownership Control and Influence (FOCI) based on the executive summary of the report attached. We’ll come back to this issue when we go into more detail on policy options.

Self assessment questions

  • what is an institution?
  • what are the four basic functions of any government, and how do you recognize them?  Where are they situated in the Canadian government?
  • how does government effect governance?


Participation evaluation for week 3 will consist of a set of questions on frameworks (5x60s) and one consensus report (5R) on the Smardon reading: The 60s will be during the double period, and the 5R will be during the single period.

  • 60s: What are the basic functions of government, and how do they interact?
  • 60s: What role do political parties play in establishing directions for government?
  • 60s: What is political infrastructure, and how does can it support or constrain political communication
  • 60s: Who are the “buyers” and “sellers” and how does a policy marketplace work in Ottawa?
  • 60s: Explain some of the links between the four quadrants illustrated (governance, security, society, and economy)
  • 60c: critique or additional questions on any of the above.
  • 5R: Which of the four explanations of state strategies for technological development is the most compelling, and why? Discuss for 5 minutes. Present the results in 60s. There is an opportunity for a minority report as a 60c.

Questions and discussion

***We did a written exercise in which you were asked to consider four cases – a government expanding or shrinking its powers, and a civil society expanding or shrinking the bridging social capital in relation to bonding social capital. You had a variety of different interpretations of the assignment, but it was clear that time was too short to do more than a very superficial impression for a response.  Here are some thoughts to consider.

  • When government expands its capacity for intervention in society and the economy, it MIGHT restrict freedom of action in civil society and the private sector (e.g. an authoritarian government restricts activities) OR it might enable greater private sector and civil society activities (e.g. by building infrastructure that expands trading opportunities, and paying for libraries and community centres that bring people together).
  • Relative changes in bridging and bonding capital are probably less equivocal. Bridging capital is the network of trusted relationships (like WD40) that permits social mobility, trade, commerce, finance, etc. More of this means more interaction, and accelerated interactions create more opportunities. Less of it means that there are fewer opportunities outside the family or clan.
  • In considering shrinking government, Jack went all the way to dysfunctional Somalia: without government capacity to manage public space or keep people safe, people fall back on bonding social capital – the ‘superglue’ of family.
  • Several of you used the phrase “government becomes stronger” or “stronger government”. There’s potential for a paradox here, depending on how you operationalize (define and measure) the concept of “strength”.  Fascist and communist governments may be “strong” in the sense that they have powerful police and intelligence apparatuses, and are capable of coercing citizens, yet they might be surprisingly vulnerable to resistance, subversion, and overthrow, because governments ultimately rely on cooperation – the legitimate exercise of authority in order not to expend all their energy on controlling populations.
  • As we look at frameworks for analysis of public policy on science and technology, a central question is whether governments or markets are more suited to supporting innovation – and what should be the relationship between them.