Public Policy Making: Process and Principles

Public Policy Making: Process and Principles

Public Policy Making: Process and Principles

Public Policy Making: Process and Principles


The ideal first reading for any course in public policy, this brief text traces the dynamics of the policy making process:

-- the triggering of issue awareness;

-- emergence of an issue on the public agenda;

-- the formulation of a public policy commitment dealing with the issue;

-- the implementation process that translates policy into practice.

Throughout the book. Gerston brings his analysis to life with abundant examples from recent and historic cases of public policy making. At the sa time, with well-chosen references, he places public policy analysis in the disciplinary context of political science and deftly orients the reader to the classics of public policy studies. Study questions and lists of recommended readings accompany each chapter.


How does the political system really work, and why should we care? More than anything else, these two questions have provided much of the motivation for my teaching as well as the impetus for this book.

Too many times, institutional descriptions and flow charts of the political system bring about more confusion than clarity. They show diagrams and networks that are "official" but nevertheless fail to connect the polity's problems and possible outcomes. This occurs because the "system" is much more than a bunch of elected and appointed officials and their respective offices; rather it is a loosely structured (and sometimes seemingly convoluted) environment of conflicting conditions and complex solutions, almost all of which are in a constant state of flux.

Among the many sources of cynicism in the 1990s is the sense among casual observers that what we see is not consistent with formal descriptions of how things work. They wonder what keeps policy makers from doing some things and why political actors ostensibly removed from the policy making network manage to do others. That's where this book may help. It is designed to explain how the system works; as such, it is a tool for analysis, prediction, and perhaps participation.

Public Policy Making: Process and Principles places the element and dynamic circumstances of public policy in an analytical framework. Viewing the policy framework as a porous, changing entity, this book is designed to give you the political know-how for making sense out of the maze we call the policy making process. It takes us out of the world of orderly boxes and precise diagrams and into the universe of issues and policies that float in and out of the policy making arena.

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