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Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making (Revised Edition) 3rd Edition
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Her basic point is that the rational models drawn from economics do not explain very well how policy analysis works. Nor, in her view, should it be the actual model for decision making. She contends that economic rationality often gives way to political reality, to accommodation to conflicting interests, to compromise, to values other than economic efficiency (such as liberty, fairness, and so on).
The introduction opens the book strongly, with Stone noting policy paradoxes, where the economic rational model does not prevail and explain how things work. She argues (page 13) that "each type of policy instrument [e.g., inducements, rules, rights, for example] is a kind of sports arena, each with its peculiar ground rules, within which political conflicts are continued." The first chapter continues the theme, by speaking of the market (economics) and the polis (politics), with a nice table summarizing key points on page 33). She concludes that (page 34) "Problems in the polis are never `solved' in the way that economic needs are met in the market model." Two different realms, and what works in the market may or may not work in the polis.Read more ›
Stone presents us with the paradox of two apparently contradictory models of policy-making: a rational-analytic model and a polis model. The two models seem to exclude each other, yet we can observe the processes of both in policy making. Stone examines and attempts to resolve the paradox by analyzing public policy through the perspectives of both models.
The rational-analytic model is the perspective and methodology of the professional policy analyst. The policy analyst examines a problem and then generates and evaluates possible solutions. He weighs the costs, benefits, and feasibility of each option. He selects and recommends a solution which he expects (or hopes) lawmakers and officials will implement. Stone describes the rational-analytic model as a "market model" because it mirrors the decision-making process made by individual consumers and business people. In the idealized marketplace, buyers and sellers carefully compare costs and benefits before agreeing to a trade.
Stone offers the polis model as the other perspective on how policy is made. In the polis model, different interest groups compete and cooperate to define problems and decide on solutions. As a society, we acknowledge common values, needs, and wants. Collectively, we recognize problems and crises when they arise. Unfortunately, individuals often hold different definitions of those supposedly "common" values, needs, and wants. The polis model recognizes that values, wants, and needs are abstract. A crisis or problem may be ill-defined. Groups (e.g.Read more ›
While I take issue with some of the normative statements/personal reflections she puts in the book (especially when it comes to the power/relevance of statistics, which she says she hopes will be of transient importance, and which just seems silly to me, as though she's confounding political uses of said things with actual uses they can be put to, given that people know how to interpret statements that contain 'facts'.. Although it does seem to be a feature of American politics that political people can safely choose to ignore any and all data in their considerations/deliberations without anyone reprimanding them for it; why everyone is allowed to invent his/her own truth is unclear to me, but it seems to me to come from some idiotic belief in 'relativism' and voter/media cynicism if anything. Anyway, continuing:) they're mostly minor quibbles that could easily be fixed in a new edition. On the whole I think this is a very useful book, though, especially for people who are hoping to gain some insight into the deliberative processes surrounding policy-making/setting. (Though it's probably not for people who can't look past the superficial shock value of the contents.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the most obnoxiously liberal books I have ever been subjected to reading. I am all for a centrist book on policy that explains the things from different points of views. Read morePublished 4 months ago by James Doran
Stone identifies four reasons for writing this book: 1) Rationality is a narrow conception of how humans think and feel; 2) the field of policy analysis is dominated by... Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by Alicia Crumpton
I bought this book for a class and I do not necessarily like it. It was in great condition and I got it at a good price.Published on October 20, 2013 by Marcel
Every American should be required to read this. People complain about our government doing to much or taking too much money, etc... Read morePublished on May 10, 2013 by Timon