In every studied subject there is a reason why this area is studied. In addition to the theoretical knowledge acquired, a practical implementation of this knowledge is an important factor in explaining the motive behind the theory. In that regard, public policy as science is no different, where several reasons can be established for studying it. Thus, this paper outlines the main reasons for studying public policy.
The scientific reason for studying public policy implies understanding the policy decisions, as well as their causes and impacts, which might help understanding our society. The practical approach of studying public policy can be seen through the implementation of the knowledge in solving practical problems. Additionally, studying public policy might help people choose the right policy based on the goals these policies want to achieve.
It can be concluded that the reasons for studying public policies lie in acquiring theoretical knowledge, which can be then applied in practice, specifically in areas related to social science knowledge. (Dye).
The Influence on Public Policy
Looking at the definition provided by Thomas Dye for the term public policy, which is “whatever government chooses to do or not to do” (Dye 1), it can be seen that the government decisions cannot be made unaffected by external forces. The external forces might include the influence of various groups. The following essay provides an overview of the groups influencing public policy and the nature of effect they have.
According to the group theory, the groups influencing the public policy can be divided into two parts:
- Interest groups – a group that shares common attitudes toward certain issues, based on which makes it claims, e.g. National Organization of Women (NOW), the Christian Coalition, environmental groups and others.
- Political parties – a group of people that make their claims through institutions or governments, e.g. the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
The influence of the interest groups on policy making can be seen through such aspects as direct lobbying, contacts, litigations, contributions to campaigns and others.
It can be seen that interest groups and political parties are influential forces on public policies, where each change in their influence results in a corresponding change in the policy.
The literature of political science identifies several conceptual models based on which, it “offers a separate way of thinking about public policy and even suggests some of the general causes and consequences of public policy” (Dye 12). This essay provides an overview of one of such conceptual models, which is the Elite theory or the elitist theory.
The basis of the elite theory is the division of the society into mass and elites, where in the hand of the latter the political power is concentrated. The elite model of public policy implies that the policy represents the interests of the elites, where the changes are resulted from changes in the values of the elites. In that regard, it can be said that the policy is made by the elites. (Dye)
Thus, it can be seen that the elite theory not only represents social models, but also provides definitions for the public policy and the way it is shaped within such theory.
Policy and Mass Media
The role of mass media in every aspect of society cannot be overrated. In that regard, the influence of media as representation of public opinion, as well as interest groups can be seen in the public policy as well. This essay provides an overview of the role of the mass media in the process of policy making.
The role of the media in policy making can be explained in that different participants of the policy making process acknowledge the fact that the decisions of the media are vital to their success. Thus, media can take the leading role in policy as well as the role of the referee. The media effect on public policy can be outlined through the identification of the important issues, changing the behaviors of people, their opinions and reinforcing values. In that regard, the media also can create bias in the society, where people’s selective perception might help them to defend against it.(Dye)
It can be concluded that the media plays an important part in the process of policy making. This role is acknowledged by the participants of this process, and accordingly is used.
Dye, Thomas R. Understanding Public Policy. 12th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: [Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.