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Expertise in a Post-factual World: the Ideational Power of Think-tanks

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Uncertainty of issues on the political agenda and weak party loyalty suggest an ever more important role of policy advice in the US. However, the climate of populism and post-factual politics change the public policy landscape. In this paper, I explore how the discursive framework of ideational power could contribute to assessing the relevance of think tanks in the US today. An in-depth case-study of the announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement examines how the ideational power of US think tanks interacts with the populist communication of President Donald Trump. The case shows that institutional approaches to think tanks and the discursive framework of ideational power are complementary. Trump's amorphous framing of the debate weakens the power over ideas of think tanks and thus poses a threat to their relevance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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