The Content and Role of the Idea in The Making of Policy: The Case of the Policy on Drug Users in Taiwan





Published date: 

六月, 2021


Ming-Feng Liu


The paper aims to explore the structural homology between policy ideas and their respective socioeconomic background, which has played an important role, par excellence, in the age of transition. In this regard, it studies the policy regarding drug users in Taiwan from its very beginning until now, within which there are three principal periods: the Qing dynasty and Japanese colonial period, the authoritarian period, and the period after democratization. Based on the Eliasian perspective on configurational sociology and the civilizing process, four idea-types of policy idea are elaborated: great confinement, intimidation, harm reduction, and reconciliation. Besides, based on the changes in the international regime of political economy, this paper presents a trajectory of policy ideas about drug users in general, and compares this with the case of Taiwan with political preponderance, not only because of the geopolitical tension between the Qing dynasty and Japanese empire, and Communist and Nationalist China, but also due to the political struggle between the KMT and DPP. While the first two periods emphasize the role of nation-state building, the last one focuses on human rights. In this regard, this research not only presents a reflexive stand vis-à-vis the Western-centred civilizing process, but also explains the reason why the case of Taiwan is more likely to represent the general elements for non-Western countries. As such, this study concludes that it is necessary to bring politics back into the realm of policy research.