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

Paperback | April 24, 2014

byMatt Grossmann

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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 branchesof 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 issuearea 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 collectivelyuncover 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 issuearea.

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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 branchesof government. The amount of government act...

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 Election...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:April 24, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199967849

ISBN - 13:9780199967841

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Policymaking in American Institutions2. Aggregating Policy History3. How Much Does the Issue Agenda Matter?4. The Long Great Society5. Variations on the Policy Process6. Partial Explanations for Policy Change 211ConclusionAppendix A: Policy History Sources and Data Collection ProceduresAppendix B: Models of Explanations for Policy ChangeReferences