'Agrarwende' : cognitive-normative approaches to policy change in German agro-biotechnology

Boschert, Karin Christa (2005). 'Agrarwende' : cognitive-normative approaches to policy change in German agro-biotechnology. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d623


In the year 2000, Germany's biggest post-war food crisis, BSE, changed the terms of the public debate on agro-biotech significantly. Before the BSE-crisis, Germany's policy had been predominantly driven by a neo-liberal framing of biotechnology as a central tool for innovation and international competitiveness. After BSE, biotechnology policy became caught up in a broader reform effort to change agricultural and food policies - the ''Agrarwende''. This thesis concerns the question of the policy shift in agricultural biotechnology as it developed in Germany between the years 2000 and 2004 as a result of the Agrarwende. It analyzes why the BSE crisis had an effect on the German agrobiotech subsystem, how it affected regulation and to what extent it led to the . institutionalization of new types of socio-political practices and relationships. To fulfill this purpose the thesis uses cognitive-normative frameworks, in particular Maarten Hajer's discourse analytical framework and Paul Sabatier's advocacy coalition framework. By looking at the German case of agro-biotech regulation the thesis asks, how can policy change be explained and illuminated by the use of these two theories? What are their relative or different contributions to the study of policy change? Are these approaches contradictory or complementary? It can be concluded that, over the years, a great deal has changed in German agricultural biotechnology policy with regard to legislation, the political institutions and the actors involved in the subsystem. The cognitive normative frameworks applied both contributed to a better understanding of the policy process and policy change. In the analysis, Hajer's concepts were found to have more strengths and fewer weaknesses than Sabatier's. Being rooted in different theory traditions, the two approaches showed contradictory as well as complementary features. There was, in any case, much to be gained from looking at the interaction between discourse and belief dynamics.

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