As was already alluded to by Nassehi (2009) the role of local actors is mainly confined to the implementation phase of the public action. But the role of local actors must not be underestimated in other phases of public action as they are a source of knowledge themselves (e.g. about implementation problems, structural, and economic needs on the “ground”). Local actors can transmit scientific and expert knowledge to decision makers and can play a role as motivators and accountants of policy changes. In our case study (Nassehi, et. al 2009), local actors played a significant role in all of these functions. Local actors, including both parent associations as well as individual parents, were mainly the initiators, and later the motivators of the public action. They motivated politicians (first from the opposition, and later from the governing CSU) as well as experts to take part in discussions, and ultimately they did not allow the government rest until the changes were initiated.
Additionally, local actors, such as parents, have played the role of transmitters of scientific knowledge to the policy field. Parents have searched for scientific findings which attested to the positive effects of integration and transmitted these findings to the media, and to policymakers, as well as encouraged scientists at the university to take an active part in these discussions.
Moreover, local actors - such as teachers, and school directors – have also performed an important role long before the amendment, as a few of them allowed integration despite of the prohibiting laws and this triggered an avalanche when the school administration prohibited integration in this particular case. Countless local actors, experts, teachers’ unions, regular and special school teachers, shaped the public action during the preparation phase.
Local actors, including administration members, school principals, and teachers, proceeded with the public action long after the amendment by fulfilling it in the everyday praxis.
Public actions often depend on the vital cooperation of local actors in assuring implementation, and as such a political “imagination” about those local actors must exist, and to this end a policy programme must be adapted. This more indirect influence of local actors is shaped by the direct influence of a selected few local actors who sometimes come into immediate contact with policy makers in hearings, where mostly reputed experts or representatives of associations are invited to confer on the motivations, demands and problems existing at the local level. Not only is the hereby produced “imagination” about the whole population of local actors obviously an element of knowledge that is not trivial to the decision making process, but also the fact of being advised by local actors is itself an act of knowledge production (namely the politically very effective knowledge of “being advised”). Thus, in these ways the imagination about all local actors, or the “best practice”, can claim a certain amount of legitimacy.
NASSEHI A., von der HAGEN-DEMSZKI A., MAYR, K. (2009): The Amendment of the Bavarian Education Law in 2003: A Long Way towards Inclusion. Report. P 47.