Baumgartner and Jones ask how we can theoretically account for both the long periods of stability that mark American politics, as well as the shorter but dramatic bursts of policy change. They use a punctuated equilibrium model to explain both stability and change in policy choice and agenda setting in US politics. The foundation for the punctuated equilibrium idea comes from three different literatures: social choice theory, policy agendas, policy subsystems.
Method: The authors create a framework using social choice theory, policy agendas and policy subsystems.
== Notes ==
The foundation for the punctuated equilibrium idea comes from three different literatures: social choice theory, policy agendas, policy subsystems:
– From social choice theory, Baumgartner and Jones borrow the idea that there is no equilibrium in American politics
– Instead, they distinguish between stability and equilibrium, and argue that institutions provide a framework that can promote stability
– The second literature, that of policy subsystems, helps them explain stability
– They view policy subsystems as a type of institutional arrangement that can promote stability
– From the agenda-setting literature, Baumgartner and Jones note the importance of ideas
– New ideas may successfully invade a subsystem, leading to dramatic policy change, as the existing subsystem is destroyed and replaced with a new subsystem
– They place the notions of incremental and non-incremental change within the framework of punctuated equilibrium
– Incremental change occurs from negative feedback, while positive feedback leads to non-incremental change
– Negative feedback is essentially criticism of the status quo but within the terms of debate that the status quo established
– New ideas serve as shocks that alter the terms of debate and may redirect the policymaking process along a new course
– They also illustrate the impact of institutional and subsystem arrangements, as these policy making frameworks maintain governmental attentiveness to the policy after media attention has evaporated