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Guns versus butter : the politics of attention in defence policy

Abstract : The aim of this Ph.D. thesis is to examine the agenda-setting dynamics of defence. My key argument is that defence policy - which is often said to have an exceptional status on government agendas - has started to normalise. Defence, just like any other public policy, is increasingly constrained by structural biases and system-level dynamics, i.e. parts of the regal domain do not withdraw from the ‘traditional’ agenda-setting dynamics anymore. Three case studies constitute the core of my empirical analysis: the recruitment of service personnel, the acquisition of aircraft carriers and military operations. Based on an original data set that covers the period 1980-2018, I shed light on how these issues became and remained a government priority in France and the United Kingdom (UK), the two leading military powers in Europe. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, I reach two conclusions on agenda-building in defence. First, I demonstrate the importance of issue attributes at the subcategory level: the most concrete defence issues, such as military recruitment, follow dynamics that are very similar to those already identified for domestic issues; the most abstract defence issues, in turn, like procurement, will mobilise public opinion much less, but may nonetheless catch the attention of the media. Second, my results show that agenda-setting in defence coincides with the priorities of allied governments. More specifically, I highlight that the convergence of British and French defence programmes is inter alia due to mimicking behaviour. Consequently, I conclude that cross-national dynamics are key to understanding how government priorities in defence evolve over time.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 12:05:20 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, November 17, 2022 - 4:01:34 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-03853233, version 1



Friederike Richter. Guns versus butter : the politics of attention in defence policy. Political science. Institut d'études politiques de paris - Sciences Po, 2022. English. ⟨NNT : 2022IEPP0012⟩. ⟨tel-03853233⟩



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