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Political limits to the processing of policy problems

[journal article]

May, Peter J.; Jochim, Ashley E.; Pump, Barry

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Abstract This contribution addresses political limits to the processing of policy problems in the United States. Our foci are the forces that limit policymakers' attention to different aspects of problems and how this affects the prospects for problem resolution. We theorize about three sets of forces: interest engagement, linkages among relevant institutions for policymaking, and partisan conflict. We show how the interplay of these forces limits efforts to address complex problems. Based on secondary accounts, we consider these underlying dynamics for ten complex problems. These include the thorny problems of the financial crisis, climate change, and health care; the persistent problems of K-12 education, drug abuse, and food safety; and the looming problems associated with critical infrastructure, the obesity epidemic, ocean health, and terrorism and extreme events. From these accounts we identify different patterns that we label fractured, allied, bureaucratic, and anemic policymaking.
Keywords politics; political lawsuit; layout; United States of America; financial crisis; climate change; health care; drug abuse; fight against terrorism; social problem; problem solving; scope of action
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
Page/Pages p. 104-116
Journal Politics and Governance, 1 (2013) 2
ISSN 2183-2463
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution