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Public Policy

Public Policy
Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives

Fourth Edition

January 2013 | 592 pages | CQ Press
A companion website is available for this text

All too often, public policy textbooks offer a basic grounding in the policy process without the benefit of integrating the use of policy analysis. Kraft and Furlong, since their first edition, take a different tack. They want students to understand how and why policy analysis is used to assess policy alternatives—not only to question the assumptions of policy analysts, but to recognize how analysis is used in support of political arguments. To encourage critical and creative thinking on issues ranging from the financial bailout to rising gas prices to natural disasters, the authors introduce and fully integrate an evaluative approach to policy.

Public Policy starts with a concise review of institutions, policy actors, and major theoretical models. The authors then discuss the nature of policy analysis and its practice, and show students how to employ evaluative criteria in six substantive policy areas. Public Policy arms students with analytic tools they need to understand the motivations of policy actors—both within and outside of government—influence a complex, yet comprehensible, policy agenda.

Enhancements to the 4th edition:

- All chapters have been comprehensively updated to include recent events, issues, and policy debates including the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of private contractors for military support and operations, the rising cost of gasoline and disputes over energy policy and climate change, the controversy over immigration policy, requirements for financial regulation, heightened concerns over economic and social inequality, and the clash over reforming taxes and entitlement programs, as well as dealing with the federal deficit and national debt.

- New and updated "working with sources" and "steps to analysis" features help students investigate sources of information and apply evaluative criteria.

- New and updated end-of chapter discussion questions, suggested readings, and web sites.

Public Policy and Politics
What Is Public Policy?  
Defining Basic Concepts  
The Contexts of Public Policy  
The Reasons for Government Involvement  
Why Study Public Policy?  
The Practice of Policy Analysis  
Government Institutions and Policy Actors
Growth of Government
Government Institutions and Policy Capacity  
Separation of Powers  
Informal Policy Actors and Policy Capacity  
Improving Policy Capacity  
Understanding the Politics of Public Policy
Theories of Politics and Public Policy  
The Policy Process Model  
Instruments of Public Policy  
Policy Typologies  
Policy Analysis: An Introduction
The Nature of Policy Analysis  
Steps in the Policy Analysis Process  
Types of Policy Analysis  
What Kind of Analysis Is Needed?  
Public Problems and Policy Alternatives
Problem Analysis  
How to Find Information  
Constructing Alternatives  
Creative Thinking about Policy Action  
Assessing Policy Alternatives
Evaluative Criteria for Judging Policy Proposals  
Using the Methods of Policy Analysis  
Economic Approaches  
Decision Making and Impacts  
Political and Institutional Approaches  
Ethical Analysis  
Economic and Budgetary Policy
Goals of Economic Policy  
Tools of Economic Policy  
The Budget Process and Its Effect on Economic Policy  
Economic Policy: Successes and Failures  
Future Economic Issues and Challenges  
Focused Discussion: How to Address the Budgetary Shortfall  
Health Care Policy
Major Government Health Care Programs  
Rising Health Care Costs  
Managed Care Organizations  
Reducing Health Care Costs: Beyond HMOs  
Quality of Care  
Focused Discussion: Should There Be Greater Emphasis on Preventative Health Care?  
Welfare and Social Security Policy
Social Security  
Focused Discussion: Addressing the Elephant in the Room - Social Security  
Education Policy
Problems Facing Education  
Higher Education Issues  
Education Policy Reforms  
Focused Discussion: Higher Education Affordability, Cost, and Values  
Environmental and Energy Policy
The Evolution of Environmental and Energy Policy  
From Consensus to Conflict in Environmental Policy  
Major Federal Environmental Policies  
Energy Policies  
Focused Discussion: Climate Change and Energy Policy Alternatives  
Foreign Policy and Homeland Security
Background and Policy Evaluation  
Selected Issues in Homeland Security  
Focused Discussion: Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism  
Politics, Analysis, and Policy Choice
Public Policies and Their Impacts  
Policy Analysis and Policy Choices  
Citizen Participation in Decision Making  

1. This book is quite thin for covering a comprehensive study area of public policy, but thick enough for its extremely dense information inside. Yet the state of fourth edition of the book has shown the popularity of the book. There is no doubt that the book is widely recognized among scholars and students. I myself would also recommend my students in public policy class to include this book into their shelf.
2. Hence, allow me to give my insights about the book from my point of view as a lecturer. First thing first, this book is trying to cover everything and all about public policy. It seems to me that the book is likely to be a panacea for students who rushing to submit their deadline papers. For pragmatic reasons this situation can be tolerated. At least for the sake of paper writing. However, for the further and meaningful purposes of studying public policy, students need to carefully read this book. Not because of it is lack of needed resources, but given the brief topics and chapters written there. Perhaps this book could serve as the main reference of public policy students which lead them to other resources when they need to explore more on certain topics.
3. The book is well organized—as most authors who come from reputable university always structure their book prudently, that makes the book very easy to follow. However, looking back at the sub-titles of the book i.e. politics, analysis and alternatives, I would say that politics has less emphasized than the other two.
4. Part I is the foundation where students can find the basic concepts of politics and public policy. To be honest, this part of the book is something that can be easily found in many other literatures on both politics and public policy. Yet the introduction of the concepts in the beginning of the book is important to tell the reader a background information and outline of what constitute politics and public policy. However, again the discussion of both topics should not be overwhelming as the book is not intended to be a textbook of public policy study.
5. While Part I has been successfully filled with theoretical perspectives of politics and public policy, the second part might be the strength of the book in which not so many book out there addressing public policy analysis. Of course the works done by, for example, Hill and Hupe or Peter John, are masterpiece in the area of policy analysis. But, the second part of this book shows more advantages in a way that analyzing public policy is likely more feasible to be done on the ground using some instruments and tools.
6. Part III should be the trickiest one, in terms of how the author should keep this up-to-date. Having cases to be included in a book is important. Presenting empirical cases is always an advantage and an added value to the book. An empirical case can translate what the concept or theory is addressing into reality A case can also explain in further way in different language about the contextual and empirical situation that may be different from those illustrated in the concept or theory. . The thing is, a case is always contextual and time bound. We might say that a case is important and fit the concept we are offering. When the reader find something newer somewhere else that make the case obsolete, then the added value of the book is certainly decreasing.
7. Students doing politics and public policy may find this book very useful for some reasons i.e. its straightforwardness, its clear outlines and its easy-to-read type of book. Yet, I would recommend the book for completing the existing literature of public policy at the moment, and strongly recommend the book for those who really want to get “there”.

Kraft and Furlong are among few scholars whom I admire, particularly in terms of their consistency in writing. They have been in this business for a long time, and thus there is no doubt of their valuable expertise in public policy. This book is always one of their masterpiece in public policy area.

Mr Yogi Suwarno
Dept of International Development, Birmingham University
November 29, 2013

This book can be used to explore the field of public policy. As it heavily relies on the USA, it will add an interesting facet to the other materials that deal mainly with the german perspective.

Miss Sabrina Mayer
Department of Politics, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
February 14, 2013

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