At stake with implementation: trials of explicitness in the description of the state
We develop the notion of "trials of explicitness" as a conceptual instrument for the study of the state from a pragmatist, sociological angle. We present results from an empirical case study on how state practitioners (i.e. actors in charge of expressing, evaluating, executing or reforming the action of the state) confront the problem of the clarification of the agency of the state. We focus on the implementation, from the early 2000s onwards, of a reform of public management in France which called for a revision of the description of the perimeters and achievements of the action of the state. The reform targeted the rules governing the budgetary process and included, along with new accounting methods, new forms of reporting and assessment aiming at identifying the performance of governmental and administrative action. We consider the implementation process as a set of trials of explicitness in which a number of state practitioners struggled to elucidate the meaning of the reform and to flesh out its orientation. We analyze, using archival material, a number of such trials in the domain of national science and research policy.
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