chapter  5
40 Pages

The Nonrational (Political) Approach

Chapter Roadmap: This chapter begins by presenting our view of the essence of the policy process and an overview of that process. An important but brief detour on the related topic of the role of individuals in analysis follows, after which you will be walked through the process via a discussion of its component parts. Following that is a story about building a prison, which highlights the political aspect of the policy process. We will then conclude this short but crucial look at the policy process and ask you to evaluate the nonrational model. What you have learned in the first four chapters, combined with what you will be furnished with in this chapter, provides the background necessary for you to successfully complete the first part of a case study that concludes Chapter 5: “The Expansion of Human Services in Allegheny County, 1968-95” (Lewis, 1997). (Section two of the case is in the online Teaching Appendix, available to your professor.)

Essence and Overview of the Policy Process The models, axiom, and extensive critiques in Chapter 4 all point toward the recognition that the policy process is not, at its heart, rational. What then is the essence of the public policy process? We suggest that the answer to this question is that the public policy process is essentially a political process.