|London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom)
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This thesis attempts to unravel the relationship between the national institutional contexts on the one hand, and the forms of the domestic discourse on the other and analyze how that in turn affects the overall policy-making process, in terms of ideas promoted, applied and rejected, during proposed transformative policy change. It maps the pattern linking a nation's institutional arrangement and its discursive process. Such an approach is valuable as it illustrates why and how the diverse institutional contexts of different countries shape the way transformative changes are publicly legitimized within the policy-making process. It tests the theory of discursive institutionalism, as defined by Vivien Schmidt, by examining the nature of the telecoms privatization discourse in Greece and the Republic of Ireland. This is carried out through a qualitative analysis of primary sources including newspapers, parliamentary archives, documentations of political foundations, manifestos of political parties, press releases by labour unions and industrialist confederations and personal interviews. The goal is to attribute a particular type of discourse depending on the institutional settings within which it takes place. The argument put forward is the following: in simple polities -like Greece- privatization is justified principally on a pro-market ideological basis or an expressed strategic objective. In compound polities -like Ireland- privatization is presented as a socially acceptable managerial adjustment to market needs with minimum references to ideology or strategic objectives. The examination of the privatization discourse exemplifies the various complex issues entailed within the political process of a polity when dealing with transformative changes. It has important implications not only for the two countries under investigation or privatization politics but even for other societies facing large-scale transformative changes as it provides guidance on how the pathways for legitimizing such changes are likely to differ according to the different institutional contexts.