Chapter Three: Policy and Politics

3.5 Elements of Political Analysis

Within the broad sphere of political activity in education, there are many differences in how particular issues are handled. Some are the subject of legislation, others of informal bargaining. Some are written down for all to see, while others are dealt with through implicit agreements. Some issues come to a clear resolution, while others linger on indefinitely. In all cases, we can achieve a better understanding of any particular political issue by considering the following five general aspects:

  1. What is the issue and how is it being defined? (Issues)
  2. Who is involved in making the decision? (Actors)
  3. Through what decision-making process will a decision be made? (Processes)
  4. What factors might influence the decision? (Influences)
  5. What are the outcomes of a political process? (Results)

Although we will consider each of these aspects separately, it is important to realize that all five operate simultaneously and are intimately connected with one another.


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