Significant others in problem-solving and policy analysis.

  • S. C. Jones

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The starting point for this research was the belief that there is an important gap in the theory and practice of problem-solving and policy analysis to do with the way in which decision-makers think about the other actors they define as significant in their complex policy problems. Within organizational worlds of complicated social relationships and the politics of policy-making it seems almost trivially obvious that other human beings will often be crucial content in a person's problem-construction. Yet although there is a vast body of social-psychological literature and theory about processes of 'person-perception', most of this is set outside the context of problem-solving and policy analysis, while the prevailing perspectives within this context ignore interpersonal and political processes altogether. In this thesis this research topic is explored within an action research study with two people concerned to tackle the problem of unemployment amongst the black youth of their area. A framework for theoretically understanding the process by which certain others are defined as significant in a complex problem, within the psychology of problem-construction, is described. This forms the background for exploring in more substantive detail the various bases by which Others were defined as significant by the participants in this research, and their processes of explanatory and predictive 'modelling' of these others. A schema of categories of problem-significant others, grounded in their differentiations and categorizations, is developed, and some ideas about the implications of the findings for the practice of helping with the significant other content of policy analysis are offered.
Date of Award1982
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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