Up and down the pecking order, what matters and when in issue definition: the case of rbST in the EU
Dunlop, Claire A.
Journal of European Public Policy
Taylor & Francis
This article examines the nature and degree of control which powerful actors have over the process of issue definition. In particular, it explores the ways in which knowledge and time can mediate, condition and direct decision-makers’ attention from one definition to another. The characterization of the ‘pecking order’ is introduced to capture the process of redefinition around the biotech product bovine somatotrophin (rbST) in the European Union (EU). The movement of different interpretive dimensions of rbST up and down the pecking order is analysed through a synthesis of Haas’ work on epistemic communities and Pierson’s on issue feedback and conjunctures. This yields six propositions explaining the manner in which interpretations were prioritized and reshuffled across the issue’s life span. It is concluded that knowledge and time mediate choice by presenting decision-makers with opportunities to further their strategic aims and also, on occasion, by exerting independent force – particularly where knowledge is under development or an issue is caught up in a complex web of linkages.
This paper is based on doctoral research funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentship R00429834387