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Policy Problems

  • As discussed in the previous section, policy problems are issues or concerns that the citizens believe the government should correct.
    • Policy makers then evaluate all sides of the problem, and decide the most appropriate course of action.
      • Lawmakers choose which problems can be fixed and they become issues, which require government attention.

Policy Example: Children's Well-Being

Policy Example: Foreign Policy



Shootings have caused groups to call for gun control policies
Shootings have caused groups to call for gun control policies

How Do Issues Become Part of an Agenda?

  • Attention from the press
  • Major events (9/11 brought attention to terrorism, defense, security and other important topics)
  • Pressure from the citizens for the government to become involved
  • Debates on Constitutionality
  • The effects of not taking action
  • Is it different from topics already on the agenda?

Why Are Some Issues are Ignored?

  • Change would negatively impact the powerful and lose support for politicians
  • Issues in the private sector or out of jurisdiction
  • Not enough public support
  • Challenges to tradition or too controversial
  • Temporary issues

Types of Agendas

  • Systematic (discussion)
    • The issue has the attention of the public
    • Powerful groups agree that the issue is of concern
    • The groups involved in the discussion have jurisdiction over the issue
    • Should the government intervene in the issue?
      Occupy_Wall_Street_spreads_to_Portland.jpg
      The Occupy Wall Street movement called for a reform of economic policy
  • Institutional (action)
    • The government is prepared to intervene
    • What agency's agenda does the issue belong to
    • What actions should the government take?

Who Can Set the Agenda?

  • Pluralist Theory
    • Many different groups and people help to set the agenda
    • There is always room for competing groups, interests, and policies
  • Elitist Theory
    • People in power determine the agenda
    • Money controls policies and agendas
    • Use their power to benefit themselves
  • Institutional Theory
    • Legislature and bureaucracies control the agenda

      We_the_People_logo.png

    • Individuals do not benefit directly from the policies
    • Social interests do not have a large impact on policies

Presidential Agenda


Click here for the "We the People" section on the White House website.
  • On this section, anyone can start a petition and if it reaches 100,000 it receives a response from the government.
    • Click here to read the responses.
Multimedia.pngClick here for a PBS news hour story on Obama and his agenda after his second inauguration
lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on the Public Sphere and the influence on policy agendas

Sources:
1. Prezi by Allyson Colangelo
2. Policy Formation: Problems, Agendas, and Formulation by James Anderson
3. California State University Long Beach, Women and Public Policy