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Keywords:

  • knowledge;
  • ecological modernization;
  • politics;
  • environment;
  • Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

Abstract

Adopting a ‘knowledge perspective’, in which policy-making is seen as a process of collective learning through argument and persuasion, this paper assesses the record of the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution as an advocate of concepts and reforms associated with ecological modernization. Drawing on extensive empirical research, it considers how the social and political climate in which the Commission has operated, as well as certain characteristics of the Commission as an advisory body, have conditioned its degree of influence over time. It argues that in various roles—as knowledge broker, policy entrepreneur and persuasive advocate—the Commission has been able to exert a significant influence on environmental policy in the UK and beyond. The paper also reflects on the utility of different approaches in theorizing the role of advisory bodies in the policy process. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.