Choosing a Subject for Political Analysis: Agendas, Conceptual Maps and Chronological Trajectories

Magnus Tomas KĖVIŠAS (Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania)

Focusing on the mechanisms and parameters that decide the subjects chosen for political analysis, we discuss the various agenda-setting paradigms: an ambition to cover a broad scope (systemic planning), an intention to address the current/changing (pragmatic) context, or a reasoned (how?) attempt to set the agenda for the national political discourse in regard to some parties’ or personalities’ preferred schedules. The Department for Information Policy and Parliamentary Information Services at the National Library of Lithuania is an example of an institution where the three strategies outlined above are pursued all at the same time each in a somewhat different setting. – Here, in particular, we report from an empirical investigation comparing the output of two different Lithuanian analytic centers in the field of education policy (a public sector institution vs. an independent think-tank), and two different types of commissioned analysis (ex-ante vs. ex-post) that they engage in. We survey the analytical production of STRATA, the Government Strategic Analysis Center (Lithuania), and LLRI, the Lithuanian Free Market Institute, an independent think-tank, and compare the delineated chronological schedules of topics with matching initiatives – actions – in the field of education, looking for any differences in prevalence of either prospective (ex-ante) or retrospective (ex-post) outlook. We find a pronounced divergence: while the state-funded analytical work is liberal and unfocused in terms of any noticeable tendency in regard to its being future- or past-oriented, the output that is privately funded focuses exclusively on what might be done in the future. There are other differences in intensity, dynamism, and productivity/potency that are briefly discussed.