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The Structure of Policy Change$
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Derek A. Epp

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226529691

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226529868.001.0001

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The Rise and Fall of NASA’s Budget and Other Instabilities

The Rise and Fall of NASA’s Budget and Other Instabilities

(p.3) One The Rise and Fall of NASA’s Budget and Other Instabilities
The Structure of Policy Change

Derek A. Epp

University of Chicago Press

This chapter looks at some historical examples of major policy disruptions. In particular, it describes the sudden explosion of NASA's budget during the space race with the Soviet Union and its equally dramatic collapse after the moon landing. The chapter argues that two competing forces operate on the policy process. On one hand are the forces of pragmatism, where information is sought out and engaged with and where there is a tight link between the course of public policy and the size of problems. On the other, are the tidal waves of popular opinion, where attention becomes momentarily fixed on particular fears, perceptions, or ideas, only to drift elsewhere as alarming new discoveries transition into yesterday’s news. The chapter then previews three hypotheses about when policymakers will operate pragmatically and when they will be swept up by waves of public enthusiasm.

Keywords:   space race, policy disruption, public enthusiasm

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