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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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A Macroscopic View of the Policy Process

A Macroscopic View of the Policy Process

(p.15) Two A Macroscopic View of the Policy Process
The Structure of Policy Change

Derek A. Epp

University of Chicago Press

This chapter reviews scholarship that seeks to explain the policy process. It describes the theory of incrementalism—that information processing constraints cause policies to be updated only marginally from year to year—and discusses the successes and limitations of this theoretical approach. It then delves into the idea of policy windows and introduces readers to the punctuated equilibrium model of policy change. This model suggests that institutional and cognitive frictions cause policies to lurch between periods of incremental change and sudden, dramatic punctuations. The chapter explains cognitive frictions and how they operate on the policy process by reviewing literature on information processing. Final elements discuss why policy punctuations are important.

Keywords:   incrementalism, punctuated equilibrium, policy punctuations, friction, information processing

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