A Model for Agenda Setting Essay

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A MODEL OF AGENDA-SETTING, WITH APPLICATIONS* John W. Kingdon** 2001 L. REV . M.S.U.-D.C.L. 331 I was asked to discuss political constraints on policy change, using this model of agenda-setting that people have talked about. So I am going to do three things today. First, I am going to give you a brief sketch of this model. Second, I will give you an illustration of it by talking about the way deregulation emerged in the field of transportation. Third, I will discuss some implications that will get me back to this issue about whether change takes place incrementally or in big lumps all at once. So first, the model. It is contained in this book that is in your handout called Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies,1 and it is based on a lot of empirical research in health and transportation policy. Today, I am just going to sketch a few concepts out of it, and then refer you to the book for the rest. What I want to understand, and what all of us want to understand, is why things happen the way they do in entities like the federal government, or a university, that people have called organized anarchies. These are large, fragmented, multi-purpose organizations. For some purposes, the emphasis is on the organized, for some purposes it is on the anarchy, and that is why they are called organized anarchies. Running through such organizations are separate streams. Each of these streams has a life of its own, and they are largely unrelated to the others. The outcomes really turn on how the streams get joined at the end. So in this particular case, what I think runs through the federal government, in the course of people grappling with policy formation, are three streams. First is a stream of problems. People come to concentrate on certain problems rather than others and there is a process by which they decide on which problems they are going to concentrate. Second,

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