Public Policy Praxis: A Case Approach for Understanding Policy and Analysis, 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Public Policy Praxis

A Case Approach for Understanding Policy and Analysis, 3rd Edition

By Randy S. Clemons, Mark K McBeth


332 pages | 7 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138641662
pub: 2016-08-04
Hardback: 9781138641679
pub: 2016-07-26
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pub: 2016-08-05
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Public administration and policy analysis education has 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. Too often public administration education has failed individuals who must deal with the hustle and bustle and complexity of policymaking. Public Policy Praxis equips students to grapple with ambiguity and complexity. By emphasizing mixed methodologies and through the use of cases, students are encouraged to develop a workable and practical model of applied policy analysis.

Throughout the book, Clemons and McBeth argue that pragmatism demands that analysts learn to think politically and to understand that public problems are socially constructed. As such, in addition to analytical models, the authors examine specific tools of policy analysis, such as stakeholder mapping, content analysis, group facilitation, narrative analysis, cost-benefit analysis, futuring, and survey analysis. Students are given the opportunity to try out these analytical models and tools in varied case settings (county, city, federal, urban, and rural) facing wide-ranging topics (economic development, expansion of human services in an urban area, building a health care clinic in a small town, an inner-city drug program, and the bison controversy in Yellowstone National Park) that capture the diversity of public policy and the intergovernmental nature of politics.

With chapters written to the student and in a nearly conversational 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.


"This new edition is much improved in all important aspects, particularly in how the chapters have been organized to highlight the mixed methods approach to policy analysis. The authors’ post-positivist perspective reflects current thinking within the discipline, and meshes perfectly with their case study approach. Public Policy Praxis remains accessible in tone as it challenges us to examine our most basic assumptions about the policy process."Kenneth Kickham, University of Central Oklahoma, USA

"Public Policy Praxis is a concise yet comprehensive guide to policy analysis combining the practical and theoretical in a balanced text. Both scholarly and conversational, it is a valuable resource offering a broad base of policy concepts and terminology, and providing the essential tools for meaningful policy dialogue and action on an evolving array of issues." –Bonnie Stabile, George Mason University, USA

"True to its name, Public Policy Praxis epitomizes the merger between diverse theories and meaningful practice. Now on their 3rd edition, Clemons and McBeth again deliver complex ideas and methods easily understood by policy students, yet substantive enough to belong on the scholar’s bookshelf. The approach is practical, case driven, theoretically diverse, and yet simultaneously rigorous, covering complex tools of the trade—both quantitative and qualitative. For a non-dogmatic, practical, and theoretically versatile policy analysis text, this is your book."Michael Jones, Oregon State University, USA

"Public Policy Praxis is one of the best books available for graduate programs in applied public policy and policy analysis. It is an extremely well written piece of scholarship that seamlessly weaves both the theoretically important concepts in the field of public policy with the applied "toolkit" approach of policy analysis. Clemons and McBeth continue to provide both the scholar and the practitioner with an invaluable resource."Gregory C. Hill, Boise State University, USA

"Public Policy Praxis is a unique, case-based, and theory-rich approach for students to understand the politics of public policy and access tools of policy analysis. With an accessible writing style, Clemons and McBeth offer a refreshing approach to public policy that brings pragmatism and praxis to the fore in unpacking the complexities of real-world policy issues." –Elizabeth A. Shanahan, Montana State University, USA

Table of Contents

Part 1: Overview

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

Part 2: Theory & Practice: Rationality, Nonrationality, Politics, and the Policy Process

2. The Rational Public Policy Method

3. The Positivist Toolbox

4. Critiques of the Rational Approach

5. The Nonrational (Political) Approach

Part 3: Practice and Theory: Problem Definition, Pragmatism, Policy Analysis, Methodologies and Democracy

6. A Pragmatic Public Policy Analysis Method

7. Problem Definition, Mixed Methodologies, and Praxis

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

Part 4: Conclusion: Praxis/Practice

9. Letting You Show Off

About the Authors

Randy S. Clemons is Professor of Political Science and since 2009 has been the Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Mercyhurst University, USA. Mark K. McBeth is Professor in the Department of Political Science and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Idaho State University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General


Part I of this dramatically updated teaching tool, available online for faculty adopters of the textbook, includes nine fully developed and proven teaching exercises. The included cases range from organ donation to a school fight, and the exercises cover topics ranging from narrative analysis to the way voting rules affect results. Additionally, Part II offers nine more teaching aids (such as links to other cases and articles, pedagogical ideas on how to use materials, and supplemental material directly tied to concepts covered in the text). The topics covered in Part II include things such as cognitive differences between liberals and conservatives, information on GMOs, a simulation about the politics of wolf reintroduction, and a flag burning case, as well as skills such as how to do coding for content analysis (linked to a policy article on obesity). The Teaching Appendix also includes an answer set to problems offered in Chapter 3.

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