Agenda Setting on Morality Issues in the Netherlands

A. Timmermans, G.E. Breeman

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Abstract In The Netherlands, morality policy problems rarely involve mass mobilization, but the selective public for these issues is attentive. This attention is driven by interest in the regulatory decisions on these matters at the demarcation line between public values and private choices. The direction of this attention is driven by religious convictions or secular worldviews in which definitions of issues are narrow or broad, and policy intentions restrictive or permissive. Morality issues can vary not only in social, legal and political complexity but also involve frontier technology and regulatory science, as for example in the cases of assisted reproduction and embryo research. In these cases, actors are not only formal policy makers or more or less organized citizen groups, but also professional stakeholders who even may enjoy a degree of autonomy. Morality policy is somewhat an indefinite concept that can vary between countries in its social and political construction, but the five issues analyzed in this volume certainly are conceived and portrayed as matters of morality in The Netherlands. One important reason for this is the presence and institutionalization of the religious-secular cleavage in Dutch politics and society. Despite an ongoing secularization and decline of relgious party support, many topics in public policy making involve the religious-secular cleavage line in party competition. While the set of issues involving such value confrontation is not limited to what are called ‘morality problems’, it is particularly visible for this type of issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventECPR joint Sessions workshops, The Dynamics of Morality Politics and Policy -
Duration: 23 Mar 201027 Mar 2010


WorkshopECPR joint Sessions workshops, The Dynamics of Morality Politics and Policy


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