Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems: A Comparative Approach

University of Chicago Press
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Before making significant policy decisions, political actors and parties must first craft an agenda designed to place certain issues at the center of political attention. The agenda-setting approach in political science holds that the amount of attention devoted by the various actors within a political system to issues like immigration, health care, and the economy can inform our understanding of its basic patterns and processes. While there has been considerable attention to how political systems process issues in the United States, Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Stefaan Walgrave demonstrate the broader applicability of this approach by extending it to other countries and their political systems.
Agenda Setting and Political Attention brings together essays on eleven countries and two broad themes. Contributors to the first section analyze the extent to which party and electoral changes and shifts in the partisan composition of government have led—or not led—to policy changes in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, and France. The second section turns the focus on changing institutional structures in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, and Canada, including the German reunification and the collapse of the Italian party system. Together, the essays make clear the efficacy of the agenda-setting approach for understanding not only how policies evolve, but also how political systems function.
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About the author

Christoffer Green-Pedersen is professor of political science at Aarhus University, Denmark, and coeditor of Dismantling Public Policy. Stefaan Walgrave is professor of political science at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and coeditor of The World Says No to War.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 16, 2014
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780226128443
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Process / General
Political Science / Public Policy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Winner of the Lincoln Prize

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Abraham Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.

Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.

It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.

This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
Policy dismantling is a distinctive form of policy change, which involves the cutting, reduction, diminution or complete removal of existing policies. The perceived need to dismantle existing policies normally acquires particular poignancy during periods of acute economic austerity. Dismantling is thought to be especially productive of political conflict, pitting those who benefit from the status quo against those who, for whatever reason, seek change. However, scholars of public policy have been rather slow to offer a comprehensive account of the precise conditions under which particular aspects of policy are dismantled, grounded in systematic empirical analysis. Although our overall understanding of what causes policy to change has accelerated a lot in recent decades, there remains a bias towards the study of either policy expansion or policy stability. Dismantling does not even merit a mention in most public policy textbooks. Yet without an account of both expansion and dismantling, our understanding of policy change in general, and the politics surrounding the cutting of existing policies, will remain frustratingly incomplete. This book seeks to develop a more comparative approach to understanding policy dismantling, by looking in greater detail at the dynamics of cutting in two different policy fields: one (social policy) which has been subjected to study before and the other (environmental policy) which has not. On the basis of a systematic analysis of the existing literatures in these two fields, it develops a new analytical framework for measuring and explaining policy dismantling. Through an analysis of six, fresh empirical cases of dismantling written by leading experts, it reveals a more nuanced picture of change, focusing on what actually motivates actors to dismantle, the strategies they use to secure their objectives and the politically significant effects they ultimately generate. Dismantling Public Policy is essential reading for anyone wanting to better understand a hugely important facet of contemporary policy and politics. It will inform a range of student courses in comparative public policy, politics, social and environmental policy.
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