Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945

by Matt Grossmann

Oxford University Press | April 24, 2014 | Trade Paperback |

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This book presents a new view of American policymaking, focusing on networks of actors responsible for policymaking. Policy change is not easily predictable from election results or public opinion because compromise and coalitions among individual actors make a difference in all three branches of government. The amount of government action, the issue content of policy changes, and the ideological direction of policy all depend on the joint actions of executive officials, legislators, and interest group leaders. The patterns of cooperation among policymakers and activists make each issue area and time period different from the others and undermine attempts to build an unchanging unified model of American policymaking. In Artists of the Possible, Matt Grossman undertakes a rigorous content analysis of 268 books and articles on the history of 14 different major policy areas over 60 years, compiling and integrating these findings to assess the factors that drive policymaking. His findings - which collectively uncover the 790 most significant policy enactments of the federal government and credit 1,306 specific actors for their role in policy change - overturn established theories of policymaking. First, significant policy change does not follow from the issue agenda of the electorate or policymakers. Second, neither changes in public opinion nor the ideology or partisanship of government officials reliably influence the amount or content of policy change. Instead, the patterns of cooperation and compromise among political elites drive the productivity and ideological direction of policymaking. Third, the policymaking roles of public opinion, elections, and media coverage are all limited. Fourth, no typology can explain differences in policymaking across issue areas because the policy process is broadly similar except for a few idiosyncratic differences associated with each issue area.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.39 in

Published: April 24, 2014

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0199967849

ISBN - 13: 9780199967841

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Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945

Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945

by Matt Grossmann

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.39 in

Published: April 24, 2014

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0199967849

ISBN - 13: 9780199967841

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Policymaking in American Institutions 2. Aggregating Policy History 3. How Much Does the Issue Agenda Matter? 4. The Long Great Society 5. Variations on the Policy Process 6. Partial Explanations for Policy Change 211 Conclusion Appendix A: Policy History Sources and Data Collection Procedures Appendix B: Models of Explanations for Policy Change References

From the Publisher

This book presents a new view of American policymaking, focusing on networks of actors responsible for policymaking. Policy change is not easily predictable from election results or public opinion because compromise and coalitions among individual actors make a difference in all three branches of government. The amount of government action, the issue content of policy changes, and the ideological direction of policy all depend on the joint actions of executive officials, legislators, and interest group leaders. The patterns of cooperation among policymakers and activists make each issue area and time period different from the others and undermine attempts to build an unchanging unified model of American policymaking. In Artists of the Possible, Matt Grossman undertakes a rigorous content analysis of 268 books and articles on the history of 14 different major policy areas over 60 years, compiling and integrating these findings to assess the factors that drive policymaking. His findings - which collectively uncover the 790 most significant policy enactments of the federal government and credit 1,306 specific actors for their role in policy change - overturn established theories of policymaking. First, significant policy change does not follow from the issue agenda of the electorate or policymakers. Second, neither changes in public opinion nor the ideology or partisanship of government officials reliably influence the amount or content of policy change. Instead, the patterns of cooperation and compromise among political elites drive the productivity and ideological direction of policymaking. Third, the policymaking roles of public opinion, elections, and media coverage are all limited. Fourth, no typology can explain differences in policymaking across issue areas because the policy process is broadly similar except for a few idiosyncratic differences associated with each issue area.

About the Author

Matt Grossmann is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University and Director of the Michigan Policy Network. His previous book, The Not-So-Special Interests: Interest Groups, Public Representation, and American Governance, was published by Stanford University Press. He is also co-author of Campaigns and Elections: Rules, Reality, Strategy, Choice, published by W. W. Norton. His research appears in the Journal of Politics, American Politics Research, and twelve other journals.
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