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Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
Politics in States and Communities / Edition 10

Politics in States and Communities / Edition 10

by Thomas R. R. Dye, Thomas R. Dye
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This best-seller stands apart from others of its kind by its comparative approach, patient explanation, concern with policy, and ability to stimulate readers' interest. In a clear, accessible style, the authors demonstrate the important role that American states and communities play in the political life of the nation. Focuses on the sources and nature of conflict in states and communities, along with the structures and processes designed to manage conflict. Includes updates and new topics throughout, with refocused organization; discusses timely issues such as New York City's response to terrorism and the 2000 presidential race. Examines the background and career of prominent political figures. Illustrates a wide variety of current political conflicts, covering issues such as the drinking age and the right to bear arms. Includes informative and entertaining discussion on various aspects of American states and communities such as state birds, nicknames, and ratings for the "most livable" states. provides end-of-chapter "On the Web" sections that direct students to links and additional information on the Internet. For anyone interested in learning more about the American political process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780130206800
Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
Publication date: 08/05/1999
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 536
Product dimensions: 7.75(w) x 9.54(h) x 0.96(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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