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The Nature
of. Public Policy

f"' The Contemporary Language
of Public Policy:
A Starting Point
Stella Z. Theodoulou

In recent years there has been a substantial transformation in the way public pol-
icy is studied. The student of policy making is faced not only with a diversity of
11eoretical approaches but also, at times, with 1ivalvocabularies and s ecialist ter-
~ninolqg!.es.Nowhere is this better illustrate an in re e initíons of public pol-
icy. Such discussions frequently use a specialized language, indeed often jargon,
which often confuses and muddles an understanding of public policy. The one
thíng, however, that ali authors on public policy do agree on is that public policy
deeply affects the daily lives of eve1yindividual in society.


Rather than look at how individual authors define public policy, it is far more ad-
vantageous to discuss a composite of the ideas and elements that are present in
the vast majority of definitions. The purpose of doing so is to allow for a less re-
strictive meaning of public policy.

2 The Nature of Public Policy The Contemporary Language of Public Policy: A Starting Point 3
The first idea one en ·stinguish be- tional manner, so that the process of formulating and implementing new policies
tween what govemments ntend to do.and what, in fact, e actuall d ; that ov- ~be.more effective and appropriate. To argue that policy making is value free is
em.mental mactiVItyis as unportant as govemment act!._vity. The second element naive: one cannot ignore the ídeologícal debate that surrounds the creation of
is th~n that public policy ideally involves all levels of govemment and is not public policy. Concurrently, it is also true that many of the indíviduals who study
necessarily restncted to formal acto~; mformal actors are also extremely impor- policy are not value free in their recommendations. In a perfect world it would be
tant.Third, public policy is pervasive and is not solely limited to legislatiorl;exec- admirable if as Duncan MacRae and James Wilde argue public policy analysiswas
utive orders, rules, and regulations. Fourth, public policy is ª»)ntentional course "the use of reason and evidence to choose the best policy among a number of al-
~ ~th an accomplished end goal as its objective. A fifth idea describes tematives."3
public policy as both long term and short term. Policy is 6going ~; it in- However, this ignores the agenda of many who study policy. Such re-
~ volves no] ()l!!Y- the decision to enact a law but also the subseguent actions of im- searchers contend that their goal is aiding in the adoption of policies that will ac-
plementation, enforcement. and eyaluation. complish the "ríght" goals. In short, they have taken on the role of policy
We cannot dívorce politics from public policy or the environment in which advocates. For such índivíduals "right" equals "correct" policy solutions. Such an
it is made. Public policy generally does one or more of the following:it reconciles argument views the policy-making arena as an inherently political process involv-
conllicting claims on scarce resources, it establishes incentives for cooperation ing conllict and struggle among competing actors-both formal and informal-
and collective action that would be irrational without govemment influence, it with conllicting interests, values, and desires on policy issues.
prohíbíts morally unacceptable behavior; it protects the activity of a group or an A word of warning to new students of public polícy, it is beneficia! to realize
individual, promoting activities that are essential or important to govemment. Fi- that one should distinguish between a basic understanding of the policy-making
nally, policy provídes direct benefits to citizens, process and the reasons for studying it. The two are inextricably linked, but they
should be very separate undertakings. The primary goal should be the explanation
of policy rather than the prescription of "good" policy. Thus the emphasis should
WHY STUDY PUBLIC POLICY be on analysis rather than advocacy. Next, the causes and consequences of public
policy should be searched through the application of social sc1entihcme1ñcidotogy
On a simplistic level, researchers and students are interested in studying public ratller than throug!:__p~~tical.agendas. From tllis, reliable theories conceming
policy because it concems issues and decisions that affect them. Beyond this, policies and their politics cañ be developed, thus allowing policy studies to be
studying policy allows for an overview of the workings of the whole political sys- both theoretical and practica!.
tem, including a concem with political institutions and the informal elements of
the political process, such as interest groups and public opinion. Thus the study of
public policy allows one to view the entirety of the political system, including its
output. As Thomas Dye concludes, policy study
Political scientists have utilized many theoretical approaches in their analysis of
Involves a description of the content of public policy; an assessment of the impact of policy making. The approaches discussed here are not exhaustive but are exam-
environmental forces on the content of public policy; an analysis of the effect of var- ples of the most commonly used. It is also not the intention here to compare or
ious institutional arrangements and political processes on public policy; an inquiry evaluate the usefulness of such approaches but rather to outline each so that stu-
into the consequences of various public policies for the political system; andan eval- dents may recognize the various ones they will encounter in their reading.
uation of the impact of public policies on society, both in terms of expected and un- The first group have in common the concept of cycle and ~s: one
expected consequences.!
image of political activity is to see it as phased behavior leading from stimülus to
new or adapted policy. Who dominates, controls, and benefits from policy is the
In sum, students of public policy are concerned with the question posed over fifty
basis fer the second group of approaches.
years ago by Harold Lasswell, "Who gets what, when, and how?"2
There are additional theoretical, practica!, and polítícal considerations in
studying policy making. Such study allows for the testing and development of ex- CYCLE-PROCESS APPROACHES
planations and generalizations that form the basis of many of the theories that
contemporary political scientists have formulated about the very nature of politics The common assumption that each of these approaches shares about political so-
in modem índustrialízed societies. On a practica! level, b;:(tudying existing policy ciety is that e_olicymakers respond to tl1edemands put on them. The focus is upon
it is .lleped that future problems may be handled in a much more efficient and ra- the process of policy making. -

4 The Nature of Public Rolicy
The Contemporary Language of Public Policy:A Starting Point 5
1. Systems Theory "'
policy. Those who concentrate on institutions focus on the relationship of the var-
Systerns theory is best exernplified by the work of David Easton and his ad- ious govemrnental institutions with each other in the policy-rnaking process. As
herents. Easton's approach is suggested by the base rnodel (see Figure 1) that he James Anderson concludes: "Institutions provide part of the context for policy
offers in A Systems Analysis of Political Life.4 He views_p.ublicpolicy asª· political rnaking which rnust be considered along with the more dynamic aspects of poli-
sys em's response to de!nands arising from the environrnent. The politícal system
is thus a mee anism by whích popular demañds and popular support for the state
are cornbined to produce those policy outputs that best ensure the long-term sta-
tics, such as political parties, groups and public opinion."6In the same way that its
related theory, the systems rnodel, is criticized for being conservative for stressing
stability, so has structural-functionalism. The real weakness of thi~¿pproach is
bility of the politícal systern. Policy outputs rnay produce new d~s that lead that it tends to fragment the stud of palie rnakin b focusin on the various l.!
to further outputs, and so on in a never-ending flow of public policy. The basic structures;tlius rn g it · icult to concisely draw all of the different elements
idea is that political systems should be seen as analogues to operating rnechanical 1ñvol.Veifin the policy process together. Concentrating on the institutional func-
systems with feedback loops and clear goals. tions will give only a partial perspective. However, the approach is useful in that it
Systems theory has often been seen as innately conservative because of its does acknowledge the role of institutional structures and procedures in 12olicy
stress on stability rather than change. However, this does not negate the useful- Iillíkiilg.
ness of the approach in allowing students to see the interrelationship of the vari-
ous actors and institutions in the policy process. The basic weakness of the
3. The Policy Cycle
systems model, in analyzing polícy, is that it sayslittle about how decisions are de-
terrnined or how they arrive into the decision-making structures. This approach views the policy process as a cycle that is deliberative, st~ed,
,t:t->- -H·'· -v' "T -l·V\wk ~-""'
Á~.~- b ·~ ~ recursive, and admínístratíve.? Policy making is thus seen as a d)mamic ongQing
hovJ 1- ~ 2. Structural Functionalism process confirming the importance of policy as a learning systern. Policies are de-
of',~ ~ This is an attempt to find a way of comparing both the ~tures and the ·scribed in two different but important senses: how they are made and how they
can be made better. ._
" operations of all social systerns by finding necessary elernents cornrnon to any sta-
ble .social system.s Much of its origins depends on qa¡¡logies with biological sys-
~· In the way that biologists might study the role of sorne physiological aspect
in the maintenance of life, functionalists have tried to understand (1) the neces-
sary "functions" that must be carried out in any polítícal system if it is to~th
its environment and achieve its goals and (2) the location of the "structures"-po- These models look at how the policy process operates and, most importantly, who
litical parties and socializing agencies-that facTiitatethat functioning. This is an controls or dorninates the process and who benefits frorn it. In other words, who
acknowledgment that the structures, arrangements, and procedures of polítícal rules? It is not the purpose here to critique or compare the rnodels in terms of
institutions have important consequences for the adoption and content of public their usefulness but rather to outline each of thern to prepare students for the rel-
evant readings.
• ~ OJ) o: -
1. Group Theory ~
et_ \M-kv--e~

The tenet here is that public policy is a product of ~ Group

lnputs ~ The Outputs
~Political--------~ theory is largely associated with the work of David Truman and in various formu-
/System lations with pluralist writers such as Robert Dahl." The central argument of both
group theory and pluralism is that societies consist of a large number of social,
etlmic, or economic groups, who are more or less well organized. These groups, in
political competition with each other, put ressure on the ovemm~roduce
Feedback Loo
p~1es avora le to them. T re pu ic interest thus tends to emerge out of the
struggle of competing individual and group claims. Specífíc policies reflect the
relative influence of the different interests on any given issue. Therefore, each
FIGURE 1 A Simplified Model of a Political System.Source: David Easton,A
Systems Analysis, 1965, p. 32. policy area involves a distinctive set of problems and separate sets of political
agents and forces. Public policy is the result of a unique process of interaction.
6 The Nature of Public P¿licy The Contemporary Language of Public Policy:A Starting Point 7

The basic elements of pluralism and group theory are multíple centers of powers there has been a proliferation of public policies to deal wíth the problems that
and optimum policy developments through competing interests. arise in a complex industrialized society. In order to come to grips with the huge
task of understanding the nature of policy enactment, political scientists have de-
2.(1=1ite Theor ~o<-{.¡ Fl1' I ~eª?) veloped severa! typologíes to categorize public policy.15
The classic typology, constantly referred to, is that ofTheodore Lowí.IsThis
This model holds that policies are made by a relatively small group of influ-
ential leaders who share common goals and outlooks. The theory is most associ- author classífíes policies according to whether they are re atory, distributive or +-
ated with the work of writers such as C. Wright Milis and Ralph Mílíband.? Such redistributive in nature. Such a typology differentiates po icies on e basis of
theorists do not see policy as the product of group conflict and demands but their impact on socíety and the relationship among those involved in policy for-
rather as determined by the preferences of the power elite or ruling class. Thus it mation.
is the preterences of the elite that are adopted by policy makers, policies reflect A second typology is that of Murray Edelman, who views policy as being
their values and serve their interests. ~olicy is not then determined by the either material or symbolic.17Material policies províde tangible resources or sub-
~~ses but b . _· rit)rwho_havepolítica! and economic power. ------....:_ stantive power füiheir oeneficiaries, and they may also impose costs on those who
may be adversely affected. On the other hand, symbolic policies provide little ma-
Í•.AJi,;u_~:r ~'.\D 1N:,w vv.::hv..;il..RJ.;..,. ~1"1'.M\~cV' terial impact on individuals and no real tangible advantages or disadvantages.
¡ 1 l \'V" '-'-'= Rather, they appeal to the values held in common by índívíduals in society, values
A sígnífícant challenge in recent years to group theory as an approach has that could include socialjustice, equality, and patriotism. Symbolicpolicies can be
come from the corporatísm of Philippe Schmítter.w The concept assumes that in- used to either divert public attention or to satisfy public demand when no sub-
tere.st groups do not merely a~t to influence policy but themselves become
part.of the decision-making an · lementation system. In retum±ortiíis ~-
ipátion jn ,p,plicymaking the groups-tl1rough tht.Sº.!1.!!:91of t}iei~--~~Bers=-
stantive benefits are being províded.
James Anderson argues that policies may also be classified as either sub-
stantive or rocedur 18Substantive policies are what govemment intendst;;(¡Q
mKsociety more manageable for the state or govemment. . - ~ actu plans of action), and they provide individuals with advantages and dísad-
-··-···~~':ce·· ·.-ce·--···-··"'·······----·------.~:::..:=
vantages, costs and benefits. In contrast, procedural policies are how something
4. Subgovernmentsj
~ will be done or who will do it.
This model argues that the govemment alone does not make policy choices A further way to classifypolicies is to ask whether a policy provídes collec-
but endorses decisions made by sections of the govemment in alliance with ínter- tive goods or private goods.19Collective policy may be viewed as providing indi-
est groups. This partnership has been referred to as subgovemments, which are visible goods, in that if they are given to one individual or group, then they must
coalítíons of members of Congress, the bureaucracy, and interest gro~s.12 Ali be provided to all índívíduals or groups. In contrast, private policy may be seen as
those involved in a subgovemment have similar interests. Sueh structures develop including divisible goods. Such policies are broken into units and charged for on
around particular policy areas and involve the relevant Iegislators, bureaucrats, an individual benefícíary basis. Michael O'Hare recently conceptualízed various
and interest groups. Thus, policy outcomes are determined by various subgovem- policies by the types of action that govemment might take.20He argues that there
ments and revolve around their interests. Subgovemments, therefore, tend to de- are direct and indirect actions that govemments may take to address issues when
velop around those specialized areas of policy that have a low leve! of general the private or public sectors do not allocate goods efficiently or when there are
public interest and awareness. Thís perspective has in recent years become out- equity or distributional problems."
moded among political scientísts, who argue that there are now much larger num- Finally, because of the political nature of policy making, policies may be
bers of interested actors than the three posited by the subgovemment model.P classified as either liberal or conservative.22Liberal policies seek govemment in-
For example, Hugh Hedo argues that one should view the process as being dom- tervention to bring about social change while conservative policies oppose such
inated by issue networks, all of whom have substantial expertise in the policy intervention. It could be argued that thís distinction has become blurred in recent
area.14 years and that the division is not about whether govemment should intervene but
in what areas, in what form, and on whose behalf.

Since the advent of the New Deal and the grudging acceptance that govem- The concem here has been to summarize for readers the debate on what public
ment-national, state, and local-will intrude into socíety's day-to-day operation, polícy has come to mean, why it should be studied, and how such study has been
8 TherNature of Public Policy The Contemporary Language of Public Policy: A Starting Point 9

done. An attempt has been made to link the study of policy to the larger study of vironment, labor policy, or institutional categories such as judicial polícy, also legíslatíve policy or time
govemment and politícs. There has been no real venture to critique any of the de- period, for example, pre-World War II. See Robert Salisbury, "The Analysis of Public Policy: A Search
for Theories and Roles" (this reader, part 1, reading 5).
finitions, approaches, or models that are commonly found in the literature. It is
16. See Theodore J. Lowi, "Dístríbution, Regulation, Hedistribution" (this reader, part 1, read-
hoped that such critiques will be provoked by the reading selections. From this ing 3).
discussion it should become clear that there is no simple way to view public pol- 17. See Murray Edelman, "Symbols and Political Quíescence" (this reader, part 1, reading 4).
icy. This point is clearly supported by Paul Sabatier who traces the development 18. Anderson, Public Policymaking, p. 10.
of public policy as a subfield of the political science discipline. Sabatier acknowl- 19. L. L. Wade and R. L. Curry, [r., A Logic of Public Policy (Belmont, Calif.: Heath, 1979),
edges there are many sources of tension between political scientists and public chapter 5.
policy scholars.w 20. Michael O'Hare, "A Typology of Governmental Actíon," Joumal of Policy Analysis and
Management, 8 (Fall 1989), 670-672. •
The readings that followrepresent a cross-section of the literature and have 21. O'Hare, "A Typology," p. 670.
been selected because they are generally considered by polítícal scientists to form 22. Theodore E. Lowi, The End of Lsberalism.(2nd ed.) (New York: Norton, 1979), chapter 3.
the benchmark from which the discipline looks at policy making. What should 23. See Paul A. Satatier, "Polítícal Science and Public Políey" (this reader part 1, reading 2).
emerge is the recognition that there ex:istsa cycle and process of publíc policy and
that it involves interaction among a wide spread of participants.
NOTES CHAMPNEY, LEONARD."Public Goods and Policy Types." Public Administration Review, 48 (Novern-
ber/December 1988), 988-994.
l. Thomas R. Dye, Understanding Public Policy (5th ed.) (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: C!GLER,ALLANJ., and BURDETI,A. LoOMIS.lnterest Group Politics (2nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: CQ
Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 5-7. Press, 1986.
2. Harold Lasswell, Politics:Who Gets Wliat, When, and How (New York: St. Martín's Press,
1988). (Originally publisbed 1936.) Policy (4th ed.). New York: St Martín's Press, 1993.
DANEKE,GREGORY A. "On Paradigmatic Progress in Public Policy and Administration." Policy Studies
3. Duncan MacRae, Jr. and James A. Wilde, Policy Analysis far Public Decisions (North Sci- Joumal, 17 (Winter 1988/1989), 277-296.
tuate, Mass.: Duxbury Press, 1979), p. 4. DOMHOFF,G. W. \l'ho Rules America? Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1967.
4. David Easton, A Systems Analysis of PoliticalLife (New York: Wiley, 1965). DYE,THOMASR. Who's Running America: The Conservative Years (4th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:
5. Gabriel Almond and J. S. Coleman, The Politics of Developing Arnas (Princeton, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1986.
Princeton University Press, 1960). EYESTONE, ROBERTE. The Threads of Public Policy. lndianapolis, lnd.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971.
GOLEMBIEWSKI, R. "The Group Basis of Politics." A11wricanPolitical Science Review, 54 (December
6. James E. Anderson, Public Policymaking: An Introduction (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
1990), p. 31. 1960), 962-971.
7. R. Mack, Planning and Uncertainty (New York: Wiley, 1971), p. 136; also see B. W. Hog- (3rd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.
wood and L. A. Gunn, Policy Analysis far the Real World (Oxford: Oxford Universíty Press, 1984); B. HEISLER,M. "Corporate Pluralism Revisited." Scandinavian Political Studies, new series, 2 (1979),
W. Hogwood and B. Guy Peters, Policy Dynamics (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983); and W. Jenk-
ins, Policy Analysis (Oxford: Martin Robertson, 1978).
KOENIG,Lours W. An Iniroduction to Public Polia]. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1986.
8. See Robert Dahl, "With the Consent of Ali" (this reader, part 1, reading 6); also "Pluralism ÜLSON,MANCUR.The Logic ofCollective Action. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965.
Revisited,'' Comparative Politics, 10, no. 2 (January 1978), 191-204; and David B. Truman, "Group PETERS,B. GUY.Anwrican Public Policy:Promiseand Perfonnance (3rd ed.). Chatham, N.J.: Chatham
Politics and Representative Democracy" (thís reader, part 1, reading 9). House, 1993.
9. See Ralph Miliband, "Imperfect Competition" (this reader, part 1, reading 8); and C. PETERSON, PAULE. "The Rise and Fall of Special Interest Politics." Political Science Quarterly, 105
Wright Milis, "The Power Elite" (this reader, part 1, reading 10). (Winter 1990/1991), 53S-556.
10. Philippe Schmitter and G. Lehmbruch (eds.), Trends towards Corporatist Intennediation PRESTHUS, ROBERT.Elites in the Policy Procese. New York: Cambridge Uníversity Press, 1974.
(Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage, 1979). RANNEY, AUSTIN(ed.), Political Science and Public Policy. Chicago: Markham, 1968.
REICH,ROBERTB. (ed.). The Power of Public Ideas. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1988.
11. Subgovernrnents are also referred to as iron triangles.
ROURKE,FRANCISB. E. Bureaucracu, Politic,and Public Policy (3rd ed.). Boston: Little, Brown, 1984.
12. J. Leiper Freeman, The Political Process:Executive Bureou-Legislanoe Committee Rela- SCHATISCHNEIDER, E. E. The Semi-Sovereign People. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969.
tions (New York: Norton, 1979); T. L. Gais and others, "Interest Croups, Iron Triangles and Repre- SCHUMPETER, J. Capitalism, Socialism and Dernocracy. London: Allen & Unwin, 1943.
sentative Institutions in American National Covernment," British Joumal of Political Science, 14 SUNDQUIST, JAMESL. "Political Scientists and Public Policy Research." PS, 24 (September 1991),
(April 1984), 161-186; and A. G. [ordan, "Iron Triangles, Woolly Corporatism and Elastic Nets: Im- 531--535.
ages of the Policy Process," [oumal of Public Policy, 1 (February 1981), 95--123. WILSON.GRAHAM K. Special Interests and Policy-Making. London: Wiley, 1977.
13. Jack Walker, Mobilizing Interest Groups in America (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press, 1991).
14. See Hugh Recio (thís reader, part 1, reading 7).
15. Issue areas have also been used to classify types of policy, for example, welfare, foreign, en-
Political Science and Public Policy 11
10 The Nature of Publicfolicy
tegrated evaluation studies into research on the policy
_ and non-use of policy analysis in the real world (Wil-

___#2~ I'/ Political Scien .

· ce Q)
davsky 1966; Dunn 1980;'W'eiss1977).
Policy proces" Two decades ago, both Ranney (1968) and Sharkansky (1970) urged
po ic scien sts interested in public policy to facus on the policy process, i.e. the
factors affecting policy farmulation and implementation, as well as the subsequent
an d Pu blic Policy effects of policy. In their view, facusing on substantive policy areas rísked falling into
the relatively fruitless realm of atheoretical case studies, while evaluation research
offered little prornise far a discipline without clear normative standards of good pol-
Pau1A · Sabatier icy. A facus on the policy process would provide opportunities far applying and inte-
grating the díscípline's accumulated knowledge conceming political behavio'r in
Pohtical scientists who are policy scholars often trace their hneage back to the pi- various institutional settings. That advíce was remarkably prescient; the first paper in
oneering work of Lemer and Lasswell (1951). But public policy did not emerge as thís symposium attempts to summaríze what has been leamed.
a sígnífícant subfield within the disciphne of political science until the late 1960s 4. Polict desi n. With roots in the policy sciences tradition described by deLeon
(1988 , is approach has recently facused on such tapies as the efficacy of different
or early 70s. Thís resulted from at least three important stimuli: (1) social and po- types of policy instruments (Salamon 1989; Linder and Peters 1989). Although sorne
lítical pressures to apply the professíon's accumulated knowledge to the pressing scholars wíthin thís orientation propase a quite radical departure from the behav-
social problems of racial discrimination, poverty, the arms race, and environmen- ioral traditions of the discipline (Bobrow and Dryzek 1987), others build upon work
tal pollution; (2) the challenge posed by Dawson and Robinson (1963), who ar- by policy-oriented political scientists over the past twenty years (Schneider and In-
gued that govemmental pohcy decisions were less the result of traditional gram 1990) while Miller (1989) seeks to integrate political phílosophy and the be-
disciphnary concems such as public opinion and party composition than of so- havioral sciences.
cioeconomic factors such as income, education, and unemployment levels, and (3) While a11have made sorne contributions, the third has been the most fruitful.
the efforts of David Easton, whose Systeins Analysis of Political Life (1965) pro- Before tuming to a preview of the symposium, sorne mention should be
víded an intellectual framework for understanding the entire policy process, from made of tensions that have emerged between political scientists arÍd the subfield
demand articulation through policy formulation and implementation, to feedback
effects on society. of policy scholars.
Over the past twenty years, policy research by pohtical scientists can be di-
vided into four types, depending upon the principal focus:
(J) Substantive area research, This seeks to understand the 12oliticsof a specific policy
~ea such as health education, transportation, natural resources, ar forei n olicy.
Most of the work in this tra ition ias consis e o etaí e , ar e y a eoretical ase
(D The first, and most subtle, concems a difference in the fundamental conception
of the purpose of govemrnent and political life (Hofferbert 1986). Vírtually a11
~-se: s_~s. Examples would include the work of Derthick (19 on social security,
pohcy scholars view govemment inJ.nstrJ1mental.terms:Govemments are there to
~+vo\\--d.)Moynihai1 (1970) on antipoverty programs, and Bailey and Mosher (1968) on federal
aid to education. Such studies are useful to practitioners and policy activists in these ímprove the welfare of members of society-to protect publíc health, provide for
areas, as well as providing potentially useful infarmation far inductive theory build- the common defense, correct extemahties and other market failures, improve
ing. In terms of the profession as a whole, however, they are probably less useful public safety, etc. Many political scientists are uncornfmtable with this view. Hav-
than theoretical case studies-such as Pressman and Wildavsky (1973) on imple- ing been schooled in Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and Mill, there is a tendency to view
mentation or Nelson (1984) on agenda-setting-which use a specific case to illus-
citizenship and polítícal participation as ends in thernselves rather than as a means
trate or test theories of important aspects of the policy process.
© E!lauation and i.m act studies. Most evaluation research is based on contributions of influencing policy decisions.
Fortunately, this strain need not be serious. Pohcy scholars can certainly ac-
from other discip ines, pa cu arly welfare econornics (Stokey and Zeckhauser 1978;
Jenkins-Smith 1990). Policy scholars trained as political scientists have made several knowledge the value of sohdary incentives and a sense of pohtical efficacy arising
contributíons. They have broadened the criteria of evaluation from traditional social from political participation, even if these topics hold no intrinsic interest for them.
welfare functions to include process criteria, such as opportunities far effective citi- Likewise most pohtical scientists would admit that people participate in pohtical
zen participation (Pierce and Doerksen 1976). They have facused attention on dís-
hfe at least in part to influence govemmental decisions and ultimately improve so-
tríbutíonal effects (MacRae 1989). They have criticized traditional techniques of
benefit-cost analysis on many grounds (Meier 1984; MacRae and Wltittington 1988). cial welfare. Thus both sídes should be able to agree on the irnportance of devel-
oping theories of the pohcy process which focus on ascertaining the factors which
From Paul A. Sabatier, "Polítícal Science and Public Policy," PS: Political Science & Politics (june affect the extent to which govemmental policy decisions and their social effects
1991), pp. 143-146. Reprinted by permission.