Framing the special issue on the transformation of Food and Agricultural Policy, this article introduces the concept of post-exceptionalism in public policies. The analysis of change in agri-food policy serves as a generative example to conceptualize current transformations in sectoral policy arrangements in democratic welfare states. Often these arrangements have been characterized by an exceptionalist ideational framework that legitimizes a sector’s special treatment through compartmentalized, exclusive and producer-centered policies and politics. In times of internationalization of policy-making, increasing interlinkage of policy areas and trends towards self-regulation, liberalization and performance-based policies, policy exceptionalism is under pressure to either transform or give way to (neo-)liberal policy arrangements. Post-exceptionalism denotes a partial transformation of exceptionalist ideas, institutions, interest constellations and policy instruments. It reflects the more complex, open, contested and fluid nature of contemporary policy fields that nevertheless still maintain their policy heritage. Discussing stability, the authors distinguish between complementary and tense post-exceptionalism.
- policy change
- policy legacies