Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945 (Studies in Postwar American Political Development)

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9780199967841: Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945 (Studies in Postwar American Political Development)
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Do policymakers heed the voices of the American public or only the lobbyists in Washington? Why do they take action on health reform, but not gun control? Why does policymaking usually move slowly, and sometimes not at all? Artists of the Possible takes on these questions, analyzing sixty years of domestic policy history to provide a new understanding of what drives policymaking in all three branches of government. The results are surprising: public policy does not address the public's largest concerns. The amount of policy-and its liberal or conservative direction-emerges instead from coalition building and compromises among political elites. Elections, public opinion, and media coverage have little impact, no matter the issue area. Even changes in Washington's partisan balance and ideological divides fail to reliably produce shifts in policy direction. This data-rich, exhaustively researched work overturns our most basic assumptions about how policy is made, challenging the notion that our government is of, by, and for the people.

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About the Author:


Matt Grossmann is Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and Associate Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University and author of The Not-So-Special Interests.

Review:

"Matt Grossmann's insightful and convincing new book... [is] an excellent choice... In addition to the incredible amount of data collection it represents, the author's careful and convincing rebuttal of existing theories using a variety of methodologies, and his use of network analysis to identify governing networks, is impressive and persuasive. The writing is also very strong, making it an enjoyable read... Artists of the Possible is a major achievement... an absolute must-read for anyone interested in public policy - or, for that matter, American politics."
- Matthew Green in The Forum.

"This theoretically and empirically rich book... asks, where does policy change come from?... Elections, the media, and public opinion are not major drivers of policy change. Usually, policy change in any given policy area is primarily the result of negotiation, compromise, and cooperation among elites, especially long-serving legislators, the president, and interest group lobbyists... the analysis raises troubling questions about the nature of American democracy and the role of the public within it. Summing Up: Highly recommended." - Anthony J. Nownes, University of Tennessee, in Choice

"Artists of the Possible raises the bar for studies of the politics of policymaking-American or otherwise...The book also sets Grossmann apart as both social theorist and contributor to the field... Grossmann's theoretical innovation is matched, if not exceeded, by the book's empirical accomplishment... What emerges from this Herculean effort is a rich portrait of American policymaking" - Philip Rocco, University of California, Berkeley, in Public Administration
  "Matt Grossmann's new book provides a systematic contribution to our understanding of the dynamics of policy change... The strength of the author's use of policy histories is the breadth and depth of analysis of important episodes of policy change that have not heretofore been synthesized... we must applaud Grossmann for moving the study of policy formation forward through a novel database and for the questions and puzzles raised"- Paul Posner, George Mason University, in Perspectives on Politics

"Matt Grossman offers a compelling and holistic analysis of American federal domestic policymaking since 1945...The strength of the argument is bested perhaps only by his comprehensive collection of data and meticulous empirical analysis...His contribution is twofold, offering original insights as well as data that will be of use to scholars for years to come...The work is an undoubtedly invaluable contribution to the literature on policy change, even if the findings are at odds with our hopes for democracy."
- Dino Christenson, Boston University, in Political Science Quarterly

"[Grossmann] provides insightful criticism of the existing scholarship, proposes his own theory of policy change, and systematically analyzes the existing policy history literature using network analysis...I commend Grossman for writing a stimulating study by employing innovative methods to critique the literature, posit a theory of policy-making, and suggest real limitations exist for those attempting to build theory."- Jeremy Johnson in The Forum.

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9780199967834: Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change since 1945 (Studies in Postwar American Political Development)

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 integrates 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, along with more than 60 circumstantial factors-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, media coverage, research, and international factors 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. Seller Inventory # AAC9780199967841

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 integrates 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, along with more than 60 circumstantial factors-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, media coverage, research, and international factors 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. Seller Inventory # AAC9780199967841

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