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Agenda-setting is a key component in the democratic process if political outsiders are to have their concerns taken seriously. However, their efforts sometimes fail for reasons other than insufficient resources or incompetent leaders: opponents often succeed in keeping new issues from ever reaching the agendas of decision-makers.
This is the first book devoted to examining why some issues proposed by aggrieved individuals or groups are denied access to policy agendas. It develops a theoretical framework for the study of agenda setting and agenda denial, emphasizing the cultural strategies opponents use to impede and defeat policy initiatives, and examining specific strategies of avoidance, attack, and redefinition that explain why certain issues don't receive consideration.
The book contains seven case studies that examine the policy process from the perspective of the strategies opponents of policy initiatives use and demonstrate that agenda denial can result when opponents succeed in portraying initiatives as threats to widely held world views and identities. Four cases involving federal agencies show how the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have kept issues off their own agendas, how the accounting profession has avoided SEC regulation, and how pro-life forces kept the French abortion pill off the FDA agenda. Two cases focusing on public health issues examine why national health insurance has never made it onto the federal agenda and how local agencies in Texas prevented residents of minority neighborhoods from obtaining clean water. Finally, a case from outside the U.S. shows how Kurt Waldheim's Nazi past failed to become an issue in his campaign for President of Austria.
While most books emphasize issue initiators, Cultural Strategies of Agenda Denial makes a unique addition to the agenda-setting literature by focusing on the actions of opponents and emphasizing the political importance of cultural resources and culturally constituted ideas to the ongoing debate in political science concerning how open and democratic our system really is.
Part I: Theoretical Overview
1. Agenda Settinga and Denial of Agenda Access: Key Concepts, Roger W. Cobb and Marc Howard Ross
2. Denying Agenda Access: Strategic Considerations, Robert W. Cobb and Marc Howard Ross
Part II: The Securities and Exchange Commission
3. Agenda Denial and Issue Containment in the Regulation of Financial Securities: The SEC, 1933-1995, Billy R. Hall Jr. and Bryan D. Jones
4. Making Professional Accounting Accountable: An Issue Doomed to Fail, John F. Mahon and Richard A. McGowan
Part III: The Food and Drug Administration
5. Strategies of Agenda Denial: Issue Definition and the Case of bST, L. Christopher Plein
6. Blue Smoke, Mirrors, and Mediators: The Symbolic Contest over RU 486, Jennifer L. Jackman
Part IV: Public Health Issues
7. Symbolic Politics and Health Care Reform in the 1940s and 1990s, Robert B. Hackey
8. Agenda Denial and Water Access in Texas Colonias, Cynthia M. Lopez and Michael R. Reich
Part V: Agenda Denial as a Comparative Political Process
9. Why Didn't Waldheim's Past Matter More? A Public Agenda Denial in Austria, John Bendix
10. Conclusion: Agenda Denial—The Power of Competing Cultureal Definitions, Roger W. Cobb and Marc Howard Ross