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When Agendas and Instability in American Politics appeared fifteen years ago, offering a profoundly original account of how policy issues rise and fall on the national agenda, the Journal of Politics predicted that it would "become a landmark study of public policy making and American politics." That prediction proved true and, in this long-awaited second edition, Bryan Jones and Frank Baumgartner refine their influential argument and expand it to illuminate the workings of democracies beyond the United States.The authors retain all the substance of their contention that short-term, single-issue analyses cast public policy too narrowly as the result of cozy and dependable arrangements among politicians, interest groups, and the media. Jones and Baumgartner provide a different interpretation by taking the long view of several issues--including nuclear energy, urban affairs, smoking, and auto safety--to demonstrate that bursts of rapid, unpredictable policy change punctuate the patterns of stability more frequently associated with government. Featuring a new introduction and two additional chapters, this updated edition ensures that their findings will remain a touchstone of policy studies for many years to come.
How does the government decide what's a problem and what isn't? And what are the consequences of that process? Like individuals, Congress is subject to the "paradox of search. " If policy makers don't look for problems, they won't find those that need to be addressed. But if they carry out a thorough search, they will almost certainly find new problems--and with the definition of each new problem comes the possibility of creating a government program to address it. With The Politics of Attention, leading policy scholars Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones demonstrated the central role attention plays in how governments prioritize problems. Now, with The Politics of Information, they turn the focus to the problem-detection process itself, showing how the growth or contraction of government is closely related to how it searches for information and how, as an organization, it analyzes its findings. Better search processes that incorporate more diverse viewpoints lead to more intensive policymaking activity. Similarly, limiting search processes leads to declines in policy making. At the same time, the authors find little evidence that the factors usually thought to be responsible for government expansion--partisan control, changes in presidential leadership, and shifts in public opinion--can be systematically related to the patterns they observe. Drawing on data tracing the course of American public policy since World War II, Baumgartner and Jones once again deepen our understanding of the dynamics of American policy making.
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