Agenda setting analysis of hydraulic fracturing in South Africa: an application of Kingdon's agenda setting theory.
Koetlisi, Nthabiseng Gertrude.
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This dissertation unpacks the agenda setting process of energy as a policy issue from 2008 to 2015. It explores how and why hydraulic fracturing emerged and developed as a policy alternative in this regard. The agenda setting theory of John Kingdon is applied to guide this analysis. Agenda setting examines how problems gain the attention of government so that policy alternatives can be examined and identified. Kingdon explained this process through three analytical streams: the problem stream, the policy stream, and the political stream, and discussed how their convergence can result in a policy window wherein an issue comes to the attention of policy makers and policy alternatives can be developed and decisions can be taken. A qualitative research methodology was employed to explore all the events and the participation of different actors which led to the identification of hydraulic fracturing as a policy alternative. Data was collected through documentary analysis and was analysed using qualitative thematic analysis. The findings of this study have reflected the agenda setting theory of John Kingdon. As Kingdon has argued, when the three streams are coupled together, it is an appropriate time to address the problem and for a policy change. This is applicable in this study: the energy problem was recognised, and a suitable policy solution was attached to problem, accompanied with a change in the political stream. The window opens when the three streams are coupled together. The window opened in 2008 when the energy problem became intense, during the period when the country experienced load shedding. This was when the energy problem was considered a crisis that demanded attention. Policy entrepreneurs advocating for hydraulic fracturing saw the window of opportunity and pushed for their proposals to government decision makers. A change in the political stream was also experienced. Important government decision makers like the President and other administrators were interested in solving the energy crisis and were in support of hydraulic fracturing. They considered hydraulic fracturing as a feasible solution to the energy crisis.