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Politics, Policy, and Public Choice: A Critique and A Proposal

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ingram, Helen M.; Scaff, Lawrence A.
Conference: 1984 Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association
Location: Sacramento, CA
Conf. Date: April 12-14
Date: 1984
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/8015
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): political science
public policy
public choice
Abstract: "In modern political science the study of politics has been guided by two contrasting perspectives. In one view political life has been conceived in terms of structural and organizational arrangements, groups, or classes and their relations, the 'symbolic' properties of political process, and the 'real' exercise and distribution of power or authority. From this perspective, policy is understood to be a result of the use of power and the material and non-material resources underlying that use, as well as the organizational forms that structure the movement of power. It is commony agreed that such forms 'affect how agendas are set, who participates in decisions, and what means are available for solving particular policy problems' (Alt and Chrystal 1983, pp. 8-9). The analytic focus is typically upon a system of relationships that constrain action. Thus, according to this political approach to political phenomena people's actions are understood to be oriented not simply by 'optiminizing' behavior, but by such factors as political ideology, cultural concerns, the influence of leaders, 'rational' belief in 'legitimate order,' the desire to perpetuate an institution, or just plain habit. Within American political science studies or 'who gets what, when, and how' (Lasswell), of 'the authoritative allocation of values' (Easton) within complex systems, or political process (Truman), of legitimacy (Lipset), of political culture (Almond), or more recently of 'structure' (Przeworski) are predicated on these assumptions. Among such topics are included an enormous amount of the work political scientists have done and continue to do."

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