The Politics Of Information: Problem Definition And The Course Of Public Policy In America

Paperback | January 2, 2015

byFrank R. Baumgartner, Bryan D. Jones

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How does the government decide what’s a problem and what isn’t? And what are the consequences of that process? Like individuals, Congress is subject to the “paradox of search.” If policy makers don’t look for problems, they won’t find those that need to be addressed. But if they carry out a thorough search, they will almost certainly find new problems—and with the definition of each new problem comes the possibility of creating a government program to address it.
           
With The Politics of Attention, leading policy scholars Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones demonstrated the central role attention plays in how governments prioritize problems. Now, with The Politics of Information, they turn the focus to the problem-detection process itself, showing how the growth or contraction of government is closely related to how it searches for information and how, as an organization, it analyzes its findings. Better search processes that incorporate more diverse viewpoints lead to more intensive policymaking activity. Similarly, limiting search processes leads to declines in policy making. At the same time, the authors find little evidence that the factors usually thought to be responsible for government expansion—partisan control, changes in presidential leadership, and shifts in public opinion—can be systematically related to the patterns they observe.
           
Drawing on data tracing the course of American public policy since World War II, Baumgartner and Jones once again deepen our understanding of the dynamics of American policy making.

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How does the government decide what’s a problem and what isn’t? And what are the consequences of that process? Like individuals, Congress is subject to the “paradox of search.” If policy makers don’t look for problems, they won’t find those that need to be addressed. But if they carry out a thorough search, they will almost certainly f...

Frank R. Baumgartner is the Richard J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Bryan D. Jones is the J. J. “Jake” Pickle Regent’s Chair in Congressional Studies in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. Together, they are the authors of seve...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:January 2, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022619812X

ISBN - 13:9780226198125

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments


Part I “Seek and Ye Shall Find”

1 Search, Information, and Policy Agendas
2 Organizing for Expertise or Organizing for Complexity?
3 Information, Search, and Government

Part II Information and the Growth of Government

4 Th e Rise and Decline of Institutional Information Processing in the Executive and Legislative Branches
5 From Clarity to Complexity in Congress
6 The Search for Information and the Great New-Issue Expansion
7 The Thickening and Broadening of Government
8 Rounding Up the Usual Political Suspects

Part III The Implications of Information in Government

9 Organizing Information and the Transformation of U.S. Policy Making
10 Organizing Complexity

Appendices
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Fascinating. . . . Baumgartner and Jones are grappling with a fundamental question of governance: How do we collectively solve problems whose complexity exceeds the cognition of any one person? And what happens when we attempt to impose simplicity on complex problems that defy such control?”