WHEN A CONDITION IS GETTING WORSE!
Certain policies occupy the government attention because of the means by which the officials learn about conditions (indicators, events, feedback) and in the ways in which conditions become defined as problems.
Indicators - used to asses the magnitude of the condition or (EG. The incidence of a disease or the cost of a program), and/or identify changes in a condition.
Focusing event - A disaster, crisis, personal experience or powerful symbol that draws attention to some conditions more than others. Events don't last long unless they are accompanied by a firmer indication of a problem, by a preexisting perception, or by a combination with other similar events.
Feedback - officials learn about conditions through feedback about the operation of existing programs (either formal eg routine monitoring of costs, or informal eg stream of complaints flowing into offices).
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONDITION AND PROBLEM:
- We put up with all kinds of conditions every day and they don't rise to prominent places on policy agendas.
- Conditions come to be defined as problems (and have a better chance of rising on the agenda), when we come to believe that we should do something to change them.
- Conditions that violate important values are transformed into problems.
- Conditions become problems by comparison with other countries/relevant units.
- Classifying a condition into one category rather than another may define it as one kind of problem or another. EG. A lack of public transportation for disabled people can be classified as a transport problem or as a civil rights problem (and the treatment of the subject is dramatically affected by the category).
Problems not only rise on government agendas, they also fade, because:
- The government may address the problem, or fail to address it. In both cases, attention turns to something else (either because something has been done or because people are frustrated by failure and refuse to invest more of their time in a losing cause.
- Conditions that highlighted a problem may change (EG. Indicators drop instead of rise, a crises goes away).
- People may become accustomed to a condition or relabel a problem.
- Other items emerge and push the highly placed items aside.
- There may simply by inevitable cycles in attention; high growth rates level off and fads come an go.
- It's critical to agenda setting
- The chances of a given proposal or subject rising on an agenda are markedly enhanced if it's connected to an important problem. - Some problems are seen as so pressing that they set agendas all by themselves.
- Once a particular problem is defined as pressing, who classes of approaches are favoured over others, and some alternatives are highlighted while others fall from view.
- So, policy entrepreneurs invest considerable resources bringing their conception of problems to officials' attention, and trying to convince them to see problems their way.
- The recognition and definition of problems affect outcomes significantly.