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Politics in States and Communities / Edition 14

Politics in States and Communities / Edition 14

by Thomas R. Dye
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  • Overview

    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.

    Product Details

    ISBN-13: 2900205109967
    Publisher: Pearson
    Publication date: 08/05/2011
    Edition description: Older Edition
    Pages: 640
    Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

    Table of Contents

    1Policy Analysis: What Governments Do, Why They Do It, and What Difference It Makes1
    What Is Public Policy?1
    Why Study Public Policy?3
    What Can Be Learned from Policy Analysis?4
    Policy Analysis and Policy Advocacy6
    Policy Analysis and the Quest for Solutions to America's Problems7
    Policy Analysis as Art and Craft9
    2Models of Politics: Some Help in Thinking about Public Policy11
    Models for Policy Analysis11
    Institutionalism: Policy as Institutional Output12
    Process: Policy as Political Activity14
    Rationalism: Policy as Maximum Social Gain16
    Incrementalism: Policy as Variations on the Past19
    Group Theory: Policy as Group Equilibrium21
    Elite Theory: Policy as Elite Preference23
    Public Choice Theory: Policy as Collective Decision Making by Self-Interested Individuals25
    Game Theory: Policy as Rational Choice in Competitive Situations27
    Models: How to Tell if They Are Helping or Not29
    3The Policymaking Process: Decision-Making Activities32
    The Policy Process: How Policies Are Made32
    Identifying Policy Issues: Public Opinion33
    Identifying Policy Issues: Elite Opinion36
    Agenda Setting and "Nondecisions"36
    Agenda Setting and Mobilizing Opinion: The Mass Media38
    Formulating Policy40
    Policy Legitimation: The Proximate Policymakers43
    Policy Implementation: The Bureaucracy50
    Policy Evaluation: Impressionistic versus Systematic54
    4Criminal Justice: Rationality and Irrationality in Public Policy58
    Crime in America58
    Crime and Deterrence61
    Does Crime Pay?63
    Police and Law Enforcement66
    Federalizing Crime Fighting68
    Crime and Guns69
    The Drug War72
    Crime and the Courts77
    RICO versus Liberty80
    Prisons and Correctional Policies81
    Capital Punishment83
    5Health and Welfare: The Search for Rational Strategies89
    Rationality and Irrationality in the Welfare State89
    Defining the Problem: Poverty in America92
    Who Are the Poor?93
    Why Are the Poor Poor?96
    The Preventive Strategy: Social Security99
    Evaluation: Intended and Unintended Consequences of Social Security100
    Social Security Reform?103
    The Alleviative Strategy: Public Assistance104
    Welfare Reform105
    Evaluation: Is Welfare Reform Working?107
    Homelessness and Public Policy108
    Health Care in America110
    Evaluation: Health Care Access and Costs112
    Health Care Reform Strategies114
    6Education: The Group Struggle120
    Multiple Goals in Educational Policy120
    Battling over the Basics121
    The Educational Groups124
    The Federal Government's Role in Education128
    Educational Reform and Parental Choice130
    Battles over School Finances133
    Public Policy and Higher Education134
    Groups in Higher Education136
    Reading, Writing, and Religion138
    7Economic Policy: Incrementalism at Work145
    Incrementalism in Fiscal and Monetary Policy145
    Economic Theories as Policy Guides146
    The Performance of the American Economy149
    The Fed at Work151
    Incrementalism and Government Spending152
    "Entitlement" Spending155
    Changing Budget Priorities: Challenging Incrementalism156
    Government Debt, Deficits, and Surpluses158
    The Formal Budgetary Process160
    8Tax Policy: Battling the Special Interests167
    Interest Groups and Tax Policy167
    The Federal Tax System168
    Taxation, Fairness, and Growth173
    Tax Policy and the Special Interests176
    Compromising with the Special Interests179
    Return of the Special Interests180
    Replacing the Income Tax?183
    9International Trade and Immigration: Elite-Mass Conflict188
    The Global Economy188
    Changing Elite Preferences for World Trade189
    Elite Gains from Trade193
    Mass Losses from Trade196
    Elite-Mass Differences over Immigration198
    National Immigration Policy201
    10Environmental Policy: Externalities and Interests207
    Public Choice and the Environment207
    Environmental Externalities210
    Interest Group Effects216
    Environmentalism versus Public Choice Theory218
    The Nuclear Industry Meltdown220
    Politicians and Bureaucrats: Regulating the Environment222
    Alternative Solutions224
    11Civil Rights: Elite and Mass Interaction230
    Elite and Mass Opinions and Race230
    The Development of Civil Rights Policy233
    Mass Resistance to Desegragation235
    Busing and Racial Balancing in Schools238
    The Civil Rights Movement240
    Public Policy and Affirmative Action243
    The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action244
    Mass Opinion and Affirmative Action248
    Public Policy and Hispanic Americans251
    The Constitution and Gender Equality252
    Public Policy and Gender Equality254
    Abortion and the Right to Life258
    Public Policy and the Disabled261
    12American Federalism: Institutional Arrangements and Public Policy265
    American Federalism265
    Why Federalism?266
    Politics and Institutional Arrangements268
    American Federalism: Variations on the Theme270
    Money and Power Flow to Washington274
    Federalism Revived?276
    Comparing Public Policies of the States278
    Institutions and Public Policy283
    13Defense Policy: Strategies for Serious Games290
    National Security as a Serious Game290
    Confronting Nuclear Threats291
    Arms Control Games292
    Post-Cold War Nuclear Deterrence and Defense294
    NATO and European Security296
    Regional Threats to American Security299
    Terrorism and Unanticipated Threats301
    When to Use Military Force?301
    Determining Military Force Levels304
    The Use of Force: The Gulf War as a Case Study305
    14Policy Evaluation: Finding Out What Happens after a Law Is Passed312
    Policy Evaluation: Assessing the Impact of Public Policy312
    The Symbolic Impact of Policy314
    Program Evaluation: What Governments Usually Do315
    Program Evaluation: What Governments Can Do317
    Federal Evaluation: The General Accounting Office319
    Experimental Policy Research320
    Program Evaluation: Why It Fails So Often322
    How Bureaucrats Explain Negative Findings323
    Why Government Programs Are Seldom Terminated324
    Politics as a Substitute for Analysis325
    The Limits of Public Policy326


    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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