ECPR (Oslo, Norvège, Septembre 2017)

“Comparing the impact of advocay coalitions on public policies in multiple sites. Results and lessons from a comparative analysis of environmental regulations in France.”

11th ECPR General Conference. Universitetet i Oslo, 2017


Keywords : Environmental Policy, Knowledge, Political Sociology, Coalition, Qualitative Comparative Analysis, Comparative Perspective, Mixed Methods, Policy Implementation.

This communication aims at understanding variations in the implementation of water policies and pollution control within one country (France) through a comparison of multiple sites (n=20) experiencing heavy environmental impacts from various sources (agriculture, industry, mining). Although all the sites share the same legal and institutional context, the public policies activated appear highly dissimilar, with outputs ranging from command and control types of intervention to non-decision, short-term technological fixes or symbolic actions. To explain these differences in policy options, we developed a mix of methods based on comparative techniques (Qualitative comparative analysis, QCA) with elements imported from the Advocacy coalition framework (ACF).

QCA allows for a systematic comparison of multiple sites and policies by using statistical tools without losing sight of local characteristics. It offers a middle ground between quantitative approaches, which tend to reduce the rich contextual information about each site, and in-depth monographs, which make the comparison difficult and usually ex-post. Our comparative design is completed by insights from the Advocacy Coalition Framework, which lead us to collect data on two key elements in each site : the pro-environment or pro-exploitation coalitions connecting various policy actors (politicians, experts, public officials, activists, business interests, journalists, etc. ) ;  the strength, resources and relative power of these coalitions  (based on indicators of various type of capital  – social, economic and symbolic – and cohesiveness).  By conceptualizing and operationalizing coalition resources, the paper also aims at filling some gap identified in the ACF literature (see Weible et al., 2016 : 261).

The communication will present a quick overview of pollution control policies and actors in France; the research design and the selected mix of methods, including the choice of conditions and the way we imported ACF concepts into the analytical grid ; the first results on a selection of cases ; the obstacles encountered during the phase of data collection and analysis, and how they were dealt with.