Paradigmatic policy change: a case study of the 1994-1996 immigration settlement renewal consultation
The Settlement Renewal Consultation process was, at its core, about transforming policy values. It was about a concerted effort by the federal government to transform thinking within the National Settlement Services Policy Community. The federal government knew that in order to fundamentally change the governance structure for immigrant settlement services, it had to change the popular values that held federal control over immigration dear. To shift administrative responsibility away from the central government toward provincial governments, members of the policy community would need to conceptualize immigrant settlement services within a new cognitive framework. The Settlement Renewal Initiative was a sequential process designed to transform that framework. If successful, the Renewal Initiative would create the intellectual environment for a significant policy change. In reviewing the Settlement Renewal Consultation process from its inception in 1994 to its completion in 1996, this thesis addresses the following questions. Did the Settlement Renewal Consultations transform policy values, among the individuals, groups, and organizations that comprised the National Settlement Services Policy Community? Was the political and social environment modified to the point where true social learning could occur and thereby have institutionalized traditions re-evaluated? Was the stage adequately set for paradigmatic policy change? This thesis provides data that suggests that all of these questions can be answered in the affirmative. This thesis provides data which indicate that social paradigms can be changed through social leaning that is facilitated by the strategic use of consultation processes. Moreover, it indicates that changes in social paradigms can lead to fundamental changes in policy paradigms.