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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title A reimagination of'preferential option for the poor'in the context of postcolonial political theology in Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL http://unitec.researchbank.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10652/3147/A Reimagination of_Preferential option​for the poor_ in the Context of Postcolonial Political Theology in Africa.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
The push for this ‘reimagination’ is provided by a key factor which, even after ‘colonialism’,
continues to shape socio-political processes in Africa. This is the politics of privilege which favours
the perspectives and experiences of the elite to the detriment of people at the margins.
There is no one definition of public policy. Conventionally, with regards to national government,
policy is the product of political influence, determining what the state does or choose not to do: who
gets what, when, and how (Shaw & Eichbaum, 2005, p. 1). Public policy exists to deal with the
‘public and its problems’ (Dewey, 1954). Problems or issues in society may be environmental,
social, legal, economic, developmental, or international (Smith, 2005). Consequently, public policy
directly affects social welfare, social institutions and social relations (Cheyne, O'Brien, & Belgrave,
2008; Dye, 2005; Gerston, 2004; Osman, 2002; Shaw & Eichbaum, 2005). It is concerned with
management, redistribution, production, reproduction and protection, and works in tandem with
policy related to national social and economic goals (Keriga and Bujra’s 2009).
However, while public policy entails a significant role for governments, other entities such as cultural
and religious organisations, business and the private sector, education and other institutions’
policies also impact on people’s lives and should be considered within the purview of public policy.
From this perspective, public policy discourse is (should) be conducted by individuals and groups
from across all sections of society (Parsons, 1995; Hughes & Calder, 2007). Public policy becomes
and embodies “assumptions about things on which virtually all of us have something to say”
(Shaw & Eichbaum, 2005, p. 5). The policy process, that is the totality of the process of deciding
what is and what is not an issue in society, choosing which issue to address or not to address, and
deciding how to address these issues is an interactive process, involving a range of people (and
institutions) known as ‘actors’ (Parsons, 1995, p. 1; Shafritz, Layne, & Borick, 2005, p. 23; Smith,
2005, p. 1). This is not merely a technical function of government and its institutions.

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