Policy Regime Perspectives: Policies, Politics, and Governing


  • Peter J. May,

  • Ashley E. Jochim


We call on policy scholars to take seriously the role of policies as governing instruments and to consider more fully the factors that shape their political impacts. We suggest that the lens provided by regime perspectives is a useful way for advancing the understanding of these considerations. As a descriptive undertaking, the regime lens can be used to construct a conceptual map that considers the constellation of ideas, institutional arrangements, and interests that are involved in addressing policy problems. As an analytic lens, regime perspectives can be used to understand how and with what effect policies set in place feedback processes that shape policy legitimacy, coherence, and durability. Together, these provide new insights into policy implementation and the interplay of policy and politics in governing. Regime perspectives provide avenues for asking and answering the “big questions” about the quality of governing arrangements and the sustainability of policies that were important considerations for the development of the field of policy studies in the 1960s, but have since waned as foci for policy scholarship.