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Change in Policy Fields: The Impact of International and Domestic Factors on Morality Policies in 25 OECD Countries Between 1980 and 2010

Final Report Summary - MORAPOL (Change in Policy Fields: The Impact of International and Domestic Factors on Morality Policies in 25 OECD Countries Between 1980 and 2010)

MORAPOL analyses the change and convergence of doc-called morality policies. The distinctive feature of morality policies is the strong relevance of conflicts over values and first principles rather than material interests that shape underlying political processes. Based on this classification, it has generally been stated, but rarely tested, that morality politics are different, with morality policies reflecting a genuine policy type. The project indeed showed that morality policies differ in various ways from non-morality policies.

The project focused on nine morality issues (abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, prostitution, pornography, drugs, gambling, gun control). It covered 26 countries (including European countries as well as Turkey, Russia, China, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Chile, and India) over a period of fifty years.

The project is the first that delivered a compilation of a unique and encompassing data set on the development and change of moral regulation across a large sample of countries over a long period of time. A second major research finding is a significant advance in the understanding of the major trends and developments of morality policy change and morality policy convergence. Contrary to widespread expectations, there is no unique trends towards more permissive regulation. Rather there are also many instances in which national regulations have become more strict over time. Third. the project developed a new concept in order to classify morality policies and to distinguish morality from non-morality issues. In this regard, a distinction has been developed between instrumental policies, latent morality policies, and manifest morality policies. Fourth, the project shed light on the role of various explanatory factors determining the direction and degree of morality policy change. Fifth, the project can be considered as path-breaking with regard to ist conceptualization of morality policy change. instead of merely focusing on the rules dimension, the project was the first to also include the dimension of sanctioning (i.e. the extent to which any breach with rules is actually consequential). The project demonstrated the added value of a multidimensional approach in the assessment of policy change and styles of regulation. In particular, analysing public policies both in terms of their rules and sanctions dimension constituted a highly promising way of meaningfully comparing and describing regulatory regimes. By focusing on rules and sanctions the project generally assumed that any public policy (regardless of its instrumental design) is based on two components: the specification of ‘rules of the game’ and the decision over measures to ensure the compliance with these rules.