Volume 51, No. 2 | Articles without a common theme

Peter Viggo Jakobsen | Policy communities, standard- and crisis management procedures: the overlooked institutional foundation for the broad support for Denmark’s activist foreign policy

This article identifies the institutional mechanisms that have created and sustained the surprisingly high level of political support that has characterized the two flagships of the activist Danish foreign policy for nearly 60 years: international military operations and development assistance. The high support results from two policy communities involving the key actors and using standard- and crisis-management procedures in the form of white papers, commissions, multi-year budget agreements, consultation, political agreements and strategies to build compromises within the two policy-areas. The high level of political support is underpinned by public disinterest in the two areas and the need to establish an international reputation as a reliable partner. The key to understanding the future of Denmark’s activist foreign policy consequently does not lie abroad or in opinion polls as it is generally assumed. It lies in the Danish parliament and the ministries involved in the two policy-areas. 

Alexander Bach, Jesper Svejgaard and Frederik Hjorth | Machine learning as a tool in political science

The use of machine learning is rapidly gaining ground in empirical political science and public policy making. Machine learning can be employed to predict individual-level outcomes and thus holds potential for increasing precision in targeted early interventions across various policy domains. This article introduces machine learning as a part of the political science and public policy toolbox. It explains key concepts and outlines how machine learning can be carried out in practice. A decision tree model used to predict dropout among students at Copenhagen University College serves as an illustrative case throughout the article. Lastly, the article discusses some of the methodological promises and pitfalls of using machine learning in a social science setting.  

Simon Laumann Jørgensen | The professions, needs-interpretation and legitimacy in the politics of eldercare

Which role should we ascribe citizens and professions in the development of politics of eldercare? The dominant view ascribes them a marginal one. Importantly, this is a classic power struggle within the politics of needs interpretation: Who should be able to determine the legitimate needs in the welfare state? To determine legitimacy in the politics of needs, several researchers point to the relevance of Jürgen Habermas’ complex theory construction. This approach is primarily relevant as it reveals the functions a democratic welfare state should take upon itself to ensure society-wide communication about citizens’ needs. Building on Habermas’ thinking as well as recent developments in care policies, the article argues that we should take sharper notice of how this society-wide communication is challenged by the existence of different experience positions grounded in people’s degree of care dependency. On this basis, it makes sense to ascribe a privileged role to the eldercare professions as bridge builders in the democratic debate concerning legitimacy in the politics of eldercare. This, however, depends on ascribing them a stronger part as needs interpreters in cooperation with care-dependent citizens than recent care policies suggest. 

Anne Heeager and Jakob Majlund Holm | How do primary schools receive financial resources, and does it matter?

Danish municipalities have autonomy to decide on how much it should cost to run the primary schools, and how financial resources should be distributed between schools with different types of students. In several municipalities, allocation of money to schools is based on information about the socioeconomic composition of students, which results in significant redistribution. While we know little about the effect of redistribution, a number of studies have looked at the importance of various economically far cheaper initiatives. This article bridges the two perspectives by developing a theoretically typology of economic investment and decision-making competence in primary schools and providing an overview of our knowledge about how to raise academic achievements by means of financial resources. Finally, the article discusses how we can learn more about the most ambitious investments. The article uses a unique dataset from Aarhus Municipality to examine the consequences of redistribution for 40 public schools and 13,237 children. 

Ann Cathrine Gottlieb and Maria Nørgaard Lyngsø | Am I allowed to sell myself and my child?

Danish legislation seeks to discourage people from becoming prostitutes and surrogate mothers. However, prostitution and surrogacy do not differ in morally relevant respects from comparable professions or practices not restricted by the law. Accordingly, a less restrictive legislation pertaining to prostitution and surrogacy is warranted. A positive side effect of this is to reduce the stigmatization that seems to affect practitioners of both professions.  

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