Review of Schneider and Ingram’s Policy Designs for Democracy

Throgmorton, James A. 1999. Review of Schneider and Ingram’s Policy Designs for Democracy. Journal of Planning Education and Research 18 (Spring): 275-277.

In Policy Design for Democracy, Schneider and Ingram argue that each of the prominent public policy theories (pluralism, policy sciences, public choice, and critical theory) has much to offer but that none of them is adequate for a society which has grown profoundly disenchanted with government.  Given that inadequacy, Schneider and Ingram offer a synthesis which explicitly seeks to make policy-making more democratic and thereby restore citizen confidence in government.  An admirable objective.  How well do they succeed?

I found much to admire in this book, particularly its comparative assessment of the four prominent policy theories. Finally!, I thought. At last there is a policy text that provides a dear, direct, and insightful two-chapter comparison of public choice and critical theory along with the stale, but still relevant,theories of pluralism and rational decision making. Any student of public policy-making would find the book to be well-worth reading, if for that reason alone. That praise notwithstanding, I would like to have seen a more sustained comparison of critical theory with public choice.

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