ProAcTA: Project Information
“Programmatic Action in Times of Austerity“ (ProAcTA) is a joint French-German research project on comparative health policy. Our study examines the role of programmatic elites who shape policy content and reform in France, Germany, the United Kingdom (England), and the United States. This three-year (2018-2021) research project is generously funded by the French Agence Nationale de Recherche (ANR) and the German Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (ANR-17-FRAL-0008-01) (DFG BA 1912/3-1).
Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. William Genieys (ANR) and Prof. Dr. Nils C. Bandelow (DFG)
Duration: April 2018 - March 2021
One of the main goals of ProAcTA is to refine the Programmatic Action Framework (PAF) as a new structure for interpreting policy formation and change, one with the potential to complement existing frameworks and provide new insights. A summary of the accepted research proposal follows.
ProAcTA refines and implements the Programmatic Action Framework to test the following hypothesis in the US, UK (England), Germany, and France between 2008 and 2018:
In the health policy sector of western democracies, budgetary austerity has had the counter-intuitive result of providing specialized sectoral elites favourable to maintaining or expanding the public role (policy custodians) with the means and the incentive to reaffirm their own authority and autonomy within the state in competition with other elites whose program instrumentalizes the rhetoric of austerity in support of programmatic retrenchment (austerians).
Both custodians and austerians are examples of programmatic actors. In this context, ProAcTA enables us to test a broader hypothesis:
Competition for authority among programmatic actors provides both an endogenous dynamic of policy change and a necessary explanation for policy content.
Programmatic actors, custodians, and austerians are ideal types. The Programmatic Action Framework contributes to clarifying them. Through systematic biographical information, in-depth targeted interviews, and detailed policy content analysis, we seek to determine to what extent collective actors approaching these roles can be identified. In particular, we ask:
An important area of investigation is the extent to which functional equivalents (relating both to the composition of elites and to their strategies) can be established across national systems that, while they all face significant budgetary pressure, vary on other significant dimensions. We distinguish two clusters of structural variables that are expected to channel and constrain the actions of elites:
In specifying these, we seek to go beyond both the received typology of social welfare systems and the dichotomy between liberal and statist programs. This allows us to re-examine the assumptions held both by supporters of social policy retrenchment and its detractors. We empirically test the premise that the various strategies linked to austerity (budget cuts, privatization, outsourcing, etc.) have necessarily weakened the scope and authority of the state.