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Reclaiming the Atmospheric CommonsThe Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and a New Model of Emissions Trading$
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Leigh Raymond

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034746

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034746.001.0001

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Theorizing Norm-Driven Policy Change

Theorizing Norm-Driven Policy Change

(p.15) 2 Theorizing Norm-Driven Policy Change
Reclaiming the Atmospheric Commons

Leigh Raymond

The MIT Press

Policy scholars acknowledge that norms affect policy choice, but have not fully articulated a theory of how norms can serve as a catalyst for sudden policy change. After reviewing existing efforts to theorize non-incremental policy change, the chapter offers an initial account of a theory of norm-driven policy change that could better predict policy change as well as stability in the future. The crux of the theory is based on the new idea of normative reframing, or using a new issue frame to portray an issue in terms of an alternative norm that supports a new policy alternative. This idea of new normative frames draws on and expands ideas from Baumgartner and Jones’ Punctuated Equilibrium Theory in trying to improve our ability to explain and predict sudden policy change. The chapter concludes with a conceptual overview of how the process of normative reframing helps explain the sudden change toward auctions in emissions trading policies related to climate change, and allows for better predictions of other specific policy changes in general.

Keywords:   Policy theory, Norms, Issue frames, Policy change, Normative reframing, Fairness norms, Polluter pays, Distributive politics, Interest group liberalism, Punctuated Equilibrium Theory

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