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Framing unpopular policies and creating policy winners: the role of heresthetics

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This article deals with a critical challenge for policymakers: how can political actors become policy winners in areas where they have previously experienced resounding losses? To address this puzzle, the article develops William Riker’s concept of heresthetic, which describes how clever actors can disrupt the equilibrium of the political opposition by re-framing people’s choices in such a way that they are inclined to contribute to their cause. Specifically, we propose a new analytical framework that enables scholars to trace and explain the various strategies available to politicians who seek to advance seemingly detrimental or risky policies in circumstances of uncertainty and complexity. This is applied to the surprising case of education reforms advanced by Australia’s Liberal–National Coalition. In doing so, the article affirms the importance of vicarious instruction for aspiring herestheticians, the media, and the citizens whom they seek to manipulate.
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Keywords: Australia; education; reform; rhetoric

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Public Policy and Governance, University of Technology Sydney, Australia 2: Department of Business Administration, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan 3: Institute for Public Policy and Governance, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Appeared or available online: 24 May 2018

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