Getting the Policies we Deserve? The Dynamics of Making Policy
Symposium: 8-9 Sept 2017

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Getting the Policies we Deserve? The Dynamics of Making Policy
This Symposium will examine the group psycho-dynamics of policy making. Developing policy in government departments and in work organisations is a task fraught with pressures from many different stakeholders, internal and external. Issues of power, conflicting interests and emotional dynamics all have an impact on what appears on the surface to be a deliberate and logical process with the aim of meeting organisational and community needs. The Symposium addresses these dynamics by asking what it is we collectively do to impact policies. In particular, participants will engage with policy makers from a variety of settings to discern the conscious and unconscious social dynamics surrounding this task and how it impacts on policy implementation, on delivery of products and services and on our work and citizenship roles.

The Symposium offers participants the opportunity to discuss and work with issues such as:
•     Do we get the policies we deserve? How do we knowingly and unknowingly affect policy-making at every level?
•     What is the nature of the policy-making task and what are the emotional and relational issues it gives rise to?
•    What have the dynamics of policy-making got to do with the roles of those implementing and working with policies made by government and senior managers?
•    What are the tensions and risks faced by policy-makers and how do these constrain policy development?
•    How do the dynamics of policy-making at a macro/country-level affect policy at micro-levels in government departments and organisations?

The Symposium is working with the contention that we all affect the ways in which policy is developed whether from our work or citizen roles. Policy-making is part of an overall systemic culture where unconscious and conscious dynamics play a role in shaping the rules of our societies, organisations and groups.
In addition, policies may be “hijacked” by social defences in the sense that the outcome is rarely under the control of the implementing agency (i.e., government) because of the powerful unknown and hard to control social forces feed into the policy making process.

Keynote Speaker - Dr Bruno Boccara
Founder of Socio-Analytic Dialogue; Former Lead Economist World Bank and Director Standard & Poor's Ph.D. Economics, MIT; Ph.D. Civil Engineering, MIT Graduate NYU School of Medicine Psychoanalytic Institute; American Psychoanalytic Association.

Dr. Boccara will speak on the unconscious social dynamics of policymaking and the importance of developing empathetic capability.

“Policy makers worldwide seem to be increasingly confronted with popular protests, whose intensity and suddenness they often fail to anticipate. Widely divergent explanations as to the causes suggest that they may also be failing to sufficiently grasp all the underlying issues behind these protests. Simultaneously, citizens appear dismayed and repulsed by the political tension and policy paralysis often gripping their societies” (Boccara ‘Socioanalytic Dialogue’ in Susan Long (ed) Socioanalytic  Methods London: Karnac 2013).

These words precede the election of Trump in the US, the Brexit decision in Britain and the recent discontent with policies in many countries.

An interactive session and workshop will follow the presentation.

Centre for Theology and Ministry, College Crescent Melbourne, 8-9 Sept 2017.