Mechanisms

It’s hard to say, frankly, just what this word is supposed to mean when it turns up in a context like the following: “The objective of this program will be to create mechanisms by which government, service providers, and community organizations can develop new methods of serving the target population.”

It may be that MECHANISMS, in this sentence, is simply a euphemism for “ways” (“the objective…will be to find ways in which…”) but it hints at something more specific than that. “Forums,” perhaps-gathering places where they can talk about “new methods”? Or maybe newly formed institutions or types of contracts? The trouble with MECHANISMS in this context-an extremely common context, to be sure-is that it says very little but appears to designate something very important. Either it is misleading, by pretending to say more than it says, or it is confusing, by trying to say something whose meaning an ordinary reader could scarcely guess.

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