The role of individuals in policy change: the case of UK low-energy housing
In this paper I examine the role of individuals in the policy process, drawing on research into a number of individuals active in UK low-energy housing during the 1990s. Kingdon’s notion of a policy entrepreneur is critically assessed. Policy entrepreneurs are conceived of as working very closely with government trying to influence the day-to-day operations of the policy process. Here I broaden this definition, suggesting that individuals active outside of government circles can also have a significant impact on processes of policy change. Concepts from science and technology studies, including actor-network theory and innovation niches, are used to explore the relationship between low-energy housing entrepreneurs, the housing they built, and policy change. Sociotechnical approaches are helpful in thinking about both the potential for individuals operating outside of the policy arena to influence policy, as well as the agency of materials such as low-energy housing. The policy influence of the entrepreneurs is judged to be twofold: in reframing policy discourse, and in providing a model for new low-energy housing. In conclusion, the importance of attending to the local embeddedness of the entrepreneurs is discussed.
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