Understanding Public Policy / Edition 13

Hardcover (Print)
Rent from BN.com
(Save 75%)
Est. Return Date: 07/25/2015
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 28%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $7.01
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 94%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (12) from $7.01   
  • New (3) from $20.00   
  • Used (9) from $7.01   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Hardcover New 0205757421 Your book ships the next business day. Examination copy.

Ships from: Cleveland, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
2010 Hardcover New Book. Lightest of shelf/storage wear. SHIPS W/IN 24 HOURS! Processed by DHL with USPS delivery for an average of 3-5 Day Standard Shipping & 2-3 Day Expedited ... Shipping! ! FREE INSURANCE! Fast & Personal Support! Careful Packaging. No Hassle, Full Refund Return Policy! Read more Show Less

Ships from: Alton, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


Cutting-edge in approach, this book gives readers concrete tools for not only understanding public policy in general, but for analyzing specific public policies. It focuses on what policies governments pursue, why governments pursue the policies they do, and what the consequences of these policies are. Very contemporary in perspective, it introduces eight analytical models currently used by political scientists to describe and explain political life and then, using these various analytical models—singly and in combination—explores specific public policies in a variety of key domestic policy areas. Explores eight analytic models—rationalism, incrementalism, elitism, interest group conflict, institutionalism, game theory, public choice, and the familiar policy process model. Uses the various analytic models to describe and explain public policy in such areas as criminal justice, health and welfare, education, economic policy, taxation, international trade and immigration, environmental protection, civil rights, federalism, and national defense. For anyone interested in the complex dynamics of the public policy making process in relation to a broad range of contemporary issues.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

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.
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

Read More Show Less

Product Details

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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface xi
1 Policy Analysis: What Governments Do, Why They Do It, and What Difference It Makes 1
What Is Public Policy? 1
Why Study Public Policy? 3
What Can Be Learned from Policy Analysis? 4
Policy Analysis and Policy Advocacy 6
Policy Analysis and the Quest for Solutions to America's Problems 7
Policy Analysis as Art and Craft 9
Notes 9
Bibliography 9
2 Models of Politics: Some Help in Thinking about Public Policy 11
Models for Policy Analysis 11
Institutionalism: Policy as Institutional Output 12
Process: Policy as Political Activity 14
Rationalism: Policy as Maximum Social Gain 16
Incrementalism: Policy as Variations on the Past 19
Group Theory: Policy as Group Equilibrium 21
Elite Theory: Policy as Elite Preference 23
Public Choice Theory: Policy as Collective Decision Making by Self-Interested Individuals 25
Game Theory: Policy as Rational Choice in Competitive Situations 27
Models: How to Tell if They Are Helping or Not 29
Notes 30
Bibliography 31
3 The Policymaking Process: Decision-Making Activities 32
The Policy Process: How Policies Are Made 32
Identifying Policy Issues: Public Opinion 33
Identifying Policy Issues: Elite Opinion 36
Agenda Setting and "Nondecisions" 36
Agenda Setting and Mobilizing Opinion: The Mass Media 38
Formulating Policy 40
Policy Legitimation: The Proximate Policymakers 43
Policy Implementation: The Bureaucracy 50
Policy Evaluation: Impressionistic versus Systematic 54
Summary 54
Notes 56
Bibliography 56
4 Criminal Justice: Rationality and Irrationality in Public Policy 58
Crime in America 58
Crime and Deterrence 61
Does Crime Pay? 63
Police and Law Enforcement 66
Federalizing Crime Fighting 68
Crime and Guns 69
The Drug War 72
Crime and the Courts 77
RICO versus Liberty 80
Prisons and Correctional Policies 81
Capital Punishment 83
Summary 86
Notes 87
Bibliography 88
5 Health and Welfare: The Search for Rational Strategies 89
Rationality and Irrationality in the Welfare State 89
Defining the Problem: Poverty in America 92
Who Are the Poor? 93
Why Are the Poor Poor? 96
The Preventive Strategy: Social Security 99
Evaluation: Intended and Unintended Consequences of Social Security 100
Social Security Reform? 103
The Alleviative Strategy: Public Assistance 104
Welfare Reform 105
Evaluation: Is Welfare Reform Working? 107
Homelessness and Public Policy 108
Health Care in America 110
Evaluation: Health Care Access and Costs 112
Health Care Reform Strategies 114
Summary 117
Notes 119
Bibliography 119
6 Education: The Group Struggle 120
Multiple Goals in Educational Policy 120
Battling over the Basics 121
The Educational Groups 124
The Federal Government's Role in Education 128
Educational Reform and Parental Choice 130
Battles over School Finances 133
Public Policy and Higher Education 134
Groups in Higher Education 136
Reading, Writing, and Religion 138
Summary 142
Notes 143
Bibliography 144
7 Economic Policy: Incrementalism at Work 145
Incrementalism in Fiscal and Monetary Policy 145
Economic Theories as Policy Guides 146
The Performance of the American Economy 149
The Fed at Work 151
Incrementalism and Government Spending 152
"Entitlement" Spending 155
Changing Budget Priorities: Challenging Incrementalism 156
Government Debt, Deficits, and Surpluses 158
The Formal Budgetary Process 160
Summary 164
Notes 166
Bibliography 166
8 Tax Policy: Battling the Special Interests 167
Interest Groups and Tax Policy 167
The Federal Tax System 168
Taxation, Fairness, and Growth 173
Tax Policy and the Special Interests 176
Compromising with the Special Interests 179
Return of the Special Interests 180
Replacing the Income Tax? 183
Summary 185
Notes 186
Bibliography 189
9 International Trade and Immigration: Elite-Mass Conflict 188
The Global Economy 188
Changing Elite Preferences for World Trade 189
Elite Gains from Trade 193
Mass Losses from Trade 196
Elite-Mass Differences over Immigration 198
National Immigration Policy 201
Summary 204
Notes 205
Bibliography 206
10 Environmental Policy: Externalities and Interests 207
Public Choice and the Environment 207
Environmental Externalities 210
Interest Group Effects 216
Environmentalism versus Public Choice Theory 218
The Nuclear Industry Meltdown 220
Politicians and Bureaucrats: Regulating the Environment 222
Alternative Solutions 224
Summary 227
Notes 228
Bibliography 229
11 Civil Rights: Elite and Mass Interaction 230
Elite and Mass Opinions and Race 230
The Development of Civil Rights Policy 233
Mass Resistance to Desegragation 235
Busing and Racial Balancing in Schools 238
The Civil Rights Movement 240
Public Policy and Affirmative Action 243
The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action 244
Mass Opinion and Affirmative Action 248
Public Policy and Hispanic Americans 251
The Constitution and Gender Equality 252
Public Policy and Gender Equality 254
Abortion and the Right to Life 258
Public Policy and the Disabled 261
Summary 262
Notes 263
Bibliography 264
12 American Federalism: Institutional Arrangements and Public Policy 265
American Federalism 265
Why Federalism? 266
Politics and Institutional Arrangements 268
American Federalism: Variations on the Theme 270
Money and Power Flow to Washington 274
Federalism Revived? 276
Comparing Public Policies of the States 278
Institutions and Public Policy 283
Summary 286
Notes 288
Bibliography 288
13 Defense Policy: Strategies for Serious Games 290
National Security as a Serious Game 290
Confronting Nuclear Threats 291
Arms Control Games 292
Post-Cold War Nuclear Deterrence and Defense 294
NATO and European Security 296
Regional Threats to American Security 299
Terrorism and Unanticipated Threats 301
When to Use Military Force? 301
Determining Military Force Levels 304
The Use of Force: The Gulf War as a Case Study 305
Summary 309
Notes 310
Bibliography 311
14 Policy Evaluation: Finding Out What Happens after a Law Is Passed 312
Policy Evaluation: Assessing the Impact of Public Policy 312
The Symbolic Impact of Policy 314
Program Evaluation: What Governments Usually Do 315
Program Evaluation: What Governments Can Do 317
Federal Evaluation: The General Accounting Office 319
Experimental Policy Research 320
Program Evaluation: Why It Fails So Often 322
How Bureaucrats Explain Negative Findings 323
Why Government Programs Are Seldom Terminated 324
Politics as a Substitute for Analysis 325
The Limits of Public Policy 326
Notes 328
Bibliography 329
Index 331
Read More Show Less


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

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)