The Politics of Attention
How Government Prioritizes Problems
Analyzing fifty years of data, Jones and Baumgartner's book is the first study of American politics based on a new information-processing perspective. The authors bring together the allocation of attention and the operation of governing institutions into a single model that traces public policies, public and media attention to them, and governmental decisions across multiple institutions.
The Politics of Attention offers a groundbreaking approach to American politics based on the responses of policymakers to the flow of information. It asks how the system solves, or fails to solve, problems rather than looking to how individual preferences are realized through political action.
“Jones and Baumgartner have become a genre, the leading scholars of a science of policymaking. This is a major scholarly achievement.”--James Stimson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“The Politics of Attention moves the classic debate over the character and value of democratic politics to new and more solid ground. In recognizing that political elites are subject to limited attention spans and constrained information-processing, just as are mass citizens, Jones and Baumgartner argue that the great attraction of representative democracy is the way in which it corrects for the limitations of both elites and mass electorates. With these arguments and supportive data, this pioneering book provides perhaps the most persuasive explanation yet of the adaptive resilience of pluralist democracies. The result is a landmark contribution to research on elite decision-making, to the study of policy evolution in postwar America, and to democratic theory.”--Lawrence C. Dodd, University of Florida
“A terrific book. Based on a decade of meticulous data collection, The Politics of Attention descriptively presents a macroscopic overview of fifty years of American policy development in congressional agenda formation and decision making. The payoff of this impressive empirical exercise is a fresh focus on and understanding of policy punctuations.”--John Padgett, University of Chicago