Understanding Public Policy / Edition 14

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Updated it its 14th edition, Understanding Public Policy focuses on the policy challenges confronting the Obama administration. This edition provides students with a close up look at the American healthcare system, current economic policies, issues of homeland security and defense policy among many other current event and issues shaping public policy today. The gold-standard for introductory public policy texts, Understanding Public Policy is designed to provide readers with concrete tools for both understanding and analyzing public policy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“I would describe this textbook as a textbook that provides a lot of information in a succinct, easy to understand format. This textbook provides a sound link between theory and actual public policies thus providing a well-rounded text for an introduction to public policy course.” –Jessica Ice, Florida State University

“It has an excellent, well-balanced coverage of the key issues that challenge our government. I would add that I admire it has been kept current as civilization and governance evolve.”—Minzi Su , Tennessee State University

“The primary advantage of this book is the application of theories to different public policy areas. I find it an excellent opportunity to teach students about empirical approach in public policy: posing their own hypotheses and selecting theories that suit best their favorite public policy topics.” –Olga Smirnova, East Carolina University

The main strengths of the book include overall comprehension, cohesiveness, and use of theories. Each chapter managers to cover a wide array of related concepts, and is densely packed with information. Yet, this is done with articulate brevity. My favorite aspect of this textbook is the use of different theories which makes this textbook an excellent tool to teach students how to empirically test theories.” –Olga Smirnova, East Carolina University

Introduces the concepts and models used in political science to describe and analyze public policies, and applies them to such areas as civil rights, criminal justice, national defense, health and welfare, education, taxation, budgeting and spending, intergovernment relations and environmental protection. Updated from the 1992 edition; first published in 1972. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Serves as an introduction to the study of public policy and to the models political scientists use to describe and explain political life. Overviews nine analytic models in political sciences, then looks at public policy using these various analytic models. Policy areas studied include civil rights, environmental protection, taxation, national defense, and international trade. Chapter summaries offer propositions derived from one or more of the models which attempt to summarize the policies discussed. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205238828
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 14
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 105,697
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas R. Dye, Emeritus McKenzie Professor of Government at Florida State University, regularly taught large introductory classes in American politics. He received his B. A. and M. A. degrees from Pennsylvania State University and his Ph. D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books and articles on American government and public policy, including The Irony of Democracy; Politics in States and Communities; Understanding Public Policy; Who’s Running America?; American Politics in the Media Age; Power in Society; Politics, Economics, and the Public; and American Federalism: Competition Among Governments. His books have been translated into many languages, including Russian and Chinese, and published abroad. Dye has served as president of the Southern Political Science Association, president of the Policy Studies Organization, and secretary of the American Political Science Association. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Georgia, and served as a visiting scholar at Bar- Ilan University, Israel; the Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C.; and elsewhere. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Kappa Phi and is listed in most major biographical directories. Additional information is available at www. thomasrdye.com.

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Table of Contents

1: Policy Analysis: What Governments Do, Why They Do It, and What Difference it Makes

2: Models of Politics: Some Help in Thinking About Public Policy

3: The Policymaking Process: Decision-Making Activities

4: Policy Evaluation: Finding Out What Happens After a Law Is Passed

5: Federalism and State Policies: Institutional Arrangements and Policy Variations

6: Criminal Justice: Rationality and Irrationality in Public Policy

7: Welfare: The Search for Rational Strategies

8: Health Care: Attempting A Rational-Comprehensive Transformation

9: Education: Group Struggles

10: Economic Policy: Challenging Incrementalism

11: Tax Policy: Battling the Special Interests

12: International Trade and Immigration: Elite-Mass Conflict

13: Energy and the Environment: Externalities and Interests

14: Civil Rights: Elite and Mass Interaction

15: Defense Policy: Strategies for Serious Games

16: Homeland Security: Terrorism and Nondeterrable Threats

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Policy analysis is concerned with "who gets what" in politics and, more importantly, "why" and "what difference it makes." We are concerned not only with what policies governments pursue, but why governments pursue the policies they do, and what the consequences of these policies are.

Political science, like other scientific disciplines, has developed a number of concepts and models to help describe and explain political life. These models are not really competitive in the sense that any one could be judged as the "best." Each focuses on separate elements of politics, and each helps us understand different things about political life.

We begin with a brief description of eight analytic models in political science and the potential contribution of each to the study of public policy:

  • Institutional model
  • Process model
  • Rational model
  • Incremental model
  • Group model
  • Elite model
  • Public choice model
  • Game theory model

Most public policies are a combination of rational planning, incrementalism, competition among groups, elite preferences, public choice, political processes, and institutional influences. Throughout this volume we employ these models, both singly and in combination, to describe and explain public policy. However, certain chapters rely more on one model than another.

We attempt to describe and explain public policy by the use of these various analytic models. Readers are not only informed about public policy in a variety of key domestic policy areas; they are also encouraged to utilize these conceptual models in political science to explain the causes andconsequences of public policies in these areas. The policy areas studied are:

  • Criminal justice
  • Health and welfare
  • Education
  • Economic policy
  • Taxation
  • International trade and immigration
  • Environmental protection
  • Civil rights
  • State and local spending and services
  • National defense

Any of these policy areas might be studied by using more than one model. Frequently our selection of a particular analytic model to study a specific polity area was based as much on pedagogical considerations as on anything else. We simply wanted to demonstrate how political scientists employ analytic models. Once readers are familiar with the nature and uses of analytic models in political science, they may find it interesting to explore the utility of models other than the ones selected by the author in the explanation of particular policy outcomes. For example, we use an elitist model to discuss civil rights policy, but the reader may wish to view civil rights policy from the perspective of group theory. We employ public choice theory to discuss environmental policy, but the reader might prefer studying environmental problems from the perspective of the rational model.

Each chapter concludes with a series of propositions, which are derived from one or more analytic models and which attempt to summarize the policies discussed. The purpose of these summaries is to suggest the kinds of policy explanations that can be derived from analytic models and tie the policy material back to one or another of the models.

The new 10th Edition of Understanding Public Policy is a substantial revision. A much more extensive review of "The Policymaking Process" appears early in the text, with many new policy discussions: "Is Welfare Reform Working?"; "Does Crime Pay?"; "The Fed at Work"; "Replacing the Income Tax"; "Public Policy and Hispanic Americans"; "Public Policy and Gender Equality;" Public Policy and the Disabled"; "Federalism Revived?"; and "Terrorism and Unanticipated Threats to America."

This edition also updates controversial discussions such as: "Crime and Guns," "The Drug War," "RICO versus Liberty," "Social Security Reform," "Health Care Access and Costs," "Educational Reform and Parental Choice," "Tax Policy and the Special Interests," "Elite Gains from Trade," "Mass Losses from Trade," "Environmentalism versus Rational Public Choice," "Public Policy and Affirmative Action," "How Money and Power Flow to Washington," and "The Gulf War as a Case Study."

In short, this volume is not only an introduction to the study of public polity but also an introduction to the models political scientists use to describe and explain political life.

Thomas R. Dye
Florida State University

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