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The Politics of Attention.pdf

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Political Science
CAS PO 331
Kate Krimmel

The Politics of Attention Tuesday, February 25, 2014 9:40 PM Preface - Policy changes come from a complex interaction of: Institutions, fixed preferences and resources - Agenda Setting: how information is used and how attention is allocated to each policy topics ○ Viewing political systems as information processing instruments brings new insights and comparisons ○ Information always needs a sender, messenger and receiver ○ Information is not used efficiently in politics - When policy subsystems are disturbed, policy punctuations occur Chapter 1: How Government Processes Information and Prioritizes Problems - Information is often distorted, ignored, misused and cited selectively by both sides of the debate - Officials distort information to better represent their constituents - New theory of policy change; Disproportionate information processing that integrates incrementalism with punctuated equilibrium - Politics is the struggle among interests, and interests win because they have resources (overstated) I. Overview of the Argument ○ Why no model has replaced the discredited incremental theory yet?  Incrementalism wasn't wrong, it must be combined with a theory of punctuated equilibrium ○ "Disproportionate information processing" leads to pattern of extreme stability and occasional punctuations  Iron triangles form between specialized interest groups, congressional committees and federal agencies  The dynamic is an appeal by the disfavored side of politics (Congress, president, parties, etc.) ○ Policy image shifting can lead to aggressive venue shopping that shuts out old venues  When images shift, punctuations occur because of disproportionate information  *If issues win the attention of the primary policymaking institutions, errors accumulate and punctuations must occur to "catch up" with changing reality □ Decision costs also add "drag" II. Information Processing ○ Collecting, assembling, interpreting, and prioritizing signals from the environment ○ Signals are information and when we become aware of them, it becomes news  Uncertain, ambiguous and biased ○ "Disproportionate information processing"; government respond to signals when they cross a "threshold" or a point at whi
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