Public Policy Praxis : A Case Approach for Understanding Policy and Analysis book cover
4th Edition

Public Policy Praxis
A Case Approach for Understanding Policy and Analysis

ISBN 9780367180348
Published March 10, 2020 by Routledge
346 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Public administration and policy analysis education have long emphasized tidiness, stages, and rationality, but practitioners frequently must deal with a world where objectivity is buffeted by, repressed by, and sometimes defeated by value conflict. Politics and policy are "messy" and power explains much more about the policy process than does rationality. Public Policy Praxis, now in a thoroughly revised fourth edition, uniquely equips students to better grapple with ambiguity and complexity. By emphasizing mixed methodologies, the reader is encouraged, through the use of a wide variety of policy cases, to develop a workable and practical model of applied policy analysis.

Students are given the opportunity to try out these globally applicable analytical models and tools in varied case settings (e.g., county, city, federal, international, plus urban and rural) while facing wide-ranging topics (starving farmers and the red panda in Nepal, e-cigarettes, GMOs, the gig economy, and opioid abuse) that capture the diversity and reality of public policy analysis and the intergovernmental and complex nature of politics. The fourth edition expands upon its thorough exploration of specific tools of policy analysis, such as stakeholder mapping, content analysis, group facilitation, narrative analysis, cost-benefit analysis, futuring, and survey analysis. Along with teaching "how to," the authors discuss the limitations, the practical political problems, and the ethical problems associated with different techniques and methodologies. Many new cases have been added, along with clear instructions on how to do congressional research and a Google Trends analysis.  An expanded online Teaching Appendix is included for adopters, offering original cases, answers to problems, alternative approaches to case use, teaching exercises, student assignments, pedagogical ideas, and supplemental material directly tied to concepts covered in the text.  With an easily accessible and conversational writing style, Public Policy Praxis is an ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in public policy analysis, community planning, leadership, social welfare policy, educational policy, family policy, and special seminars.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Boxes

List of Cases

Preface to the Fourth Edition


Part I Overview

Chapter 1 Public Policy, Power, the People, Pluralism, and You

Mini-Case: Opioid Abuse and Waterville


Introducing Narrative Analysis

Value Conflict

A Political System

Public Policy and Linkage Mechanisms

Power and Policymaking

An Ideal (Direct) Democracy

Representative Democracy

Interest Group Democracy (Pluralism)


Elite Democracy: The Irony of Democracy

Effect of Power Structures on the Policy Analyst

Stakeholder Analysis

Mini-Case: This Isn’t a Hilton Hotel, MA’AM

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

The "Gig Economy" Case: Uber (and Lyft) from Boise to Burlington

Part II Theory & Practice: Rationality, Nonrationality, Politics, and the Policy Process

Chapter 2 The Rational Public Policy Method

Genesis of the Rational Model

The Rational Public Policy Method in Theory

A Critical Reaction

The Rational Model in Practice

Rationality or Something Else?

Mini-Case: Portersville Health Clinic

Model Evaluation

Heading to a Conclusion

Concluding Thoughts

Mini-Case: Democracy or Science? Climate Change and GMOs

Glossary Terms

Chapter 3 The Positivist Toolbox


In Defense of Rationality and Big Data: Evidence Based Politics

Shaundra the Policy Analyst

Tool #1: Sampling and Mail Surveys Tool #2: Extrapolation and Forecasting

Tool #3: Measures of Central Tendency

Tool #4: Discounting

Tool #5: Cost-Benefit Analysis

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

Chapter 4 Critiques of the Rational Approach

Examples of the Power of Nonrational Explanations

Critiques of the Rational Model

Case Study: Vaping Politics and Policy – Up in Smoke

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

Chapter 5 The Nonrational (Political) Approach

Essence and Overview of the Policy Process

Problem Identification/Gaining Agenda Status

Policy Formulation, Adoption, and Funding

Policy Implementation

Policy Evaluation, Adjustment, Termination

Mini-Case: The Pocatello Prison Siting Story: A Case of Politics

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

Case Study: "Opioids and The Political Model of Policy Analysis"


Part III Practice and Theory: Problem Definition, Pragmatism, Policy Analysis, Methodologies and Democracy

Chapter 6 A Pragmatic Public Policy Analysis Method

The Rational Public Policy Analysis Method: History and Form

A Five-Step Method

Summary of the Five-Step Method

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

Case Study: Playing Politics: Bison, Brucellosis, Business, and Bureaucrats

Chapter 7 Problem Definition, Mixed Methodologies, and Praxis

Anti-Praxis: The Two Tracks of Policy Analysis

The Ambiguous and Subjective Nature of Events in the System

School Shootings and Problem Definition

What Is the "Truth" and How Are Policies Generated?

Stone and Company: The Symbolic Representation of Problem Definition

The Social Construction of Public Problems

Mixed-Methods Tools

Using Language in Problem Definition: The Yellowstone Bison Controversy

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

Case Study: School Shootings and Focus Group Research: Narrative Analysis and Problem Definition

Chapter 8 Doing Democracy: A New (Six) Step Model

Defining Democracy

Democracy as an Ambiguous Symbol

The Critique of Traditional Policy Analysis

Structuring Democracy

Communitarianism and Democracy

Democratizing Steps I through IV and Inserting a New Fifth Step into a Six Step Model

Doing Democracy: Postpositivist Tools

Ethics as Democracy

A Tie that Binds

Mini-Case: Kathmandu: Red Pandas, Hunger, USAID, and Agriculture in Nepal

Concluding Thoughts

Glossary Terms

Case Study: Big-Mart: Cheap Goods at What Price? Stakeholders and Storytellers: Playing Politics and the Policy Process

Part IV: Conclusion – Praxis/Practice

Chapter 9 Letting you Show Off

Do Facts Matter?

Mini-Case: Opioid Abuse and Waterville (Revisited)

Concluding Thoughts




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Randy S. Clemons is Professor of Political Science and the Associate Dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies & Applied Sciences at Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA.

Mark K. McBeth is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Idaho State University, USA.


"Analyzing policy is hard. But Clemons and McBeth—with their focus on the politics of policy through case studies—makes understanding why it is hard, easy.  Their 4th edition, per usual, exceeds expectations and continues to be my go-to policy analysis text." -- Michael D. Jones, Oregon State University, USA

"Clemons and McBeth’s Public Policy Praxis offers a refreshing approach for students to understand the politics of public policy and yet also learn and use practical tools for policy analysis. This book offers cases and exercises for students to experience the complexity of decision-making, all-the-while putting abstract concepts of public policy into practice." -- Elizabeth Shanahan, Montana State University, USA