Reframing the Informal in Wiarda’s Observations of U.S. Policy Making
This essay considers the informal in the work of Howard J. Wiarda, both in his observational approach to research and in the interactions he observed in Washington political society. I contend that Wiarda’s focus on these phenomena was important, although he did not take his analysis of it far enough. In response, I draw upon the literature on informal institutions, policy networks, and social capital to reframe Wiarda’s observations about interactions in Washington in the context of political science, in order to find greater meaning in an important theme in his work. I find that the informal interactions which Wiarda observed in Washington political society, as he asserted, undermine and polarize the U.S. policy-making process, and that they do so because they do not produce the bridging social capital that is expected of heterogeneous social networks.
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