This research involves an extension and continuation of research begun with an earlier National Science Foundation award. In that project the investigators laid out a methodology for conducting interviews on a random sample of public policy issues and assessing the strategies and resources of lobbyists and other policy advocates as they attempt to influence the policy process. The researchers focused on the use of arguments and evidence in addition to the more standard variables of material resources. In the current project, the investigators complete documentation of 100 randomly selected cases of federal government policy debates. The analyses allow for the systematic comparison of advocacy efforts on a broad sample of issues in government. The researchers compare the dimensional structures of those issues, the lobbying and advocacy efforts of those involved, the degree to which government officials themselves are advocates along with those outside government, the impact of money and material resources on coalition formation and policy outcomes, the differences between highly visible and less-visible policy decisions, and the ability of advocates to affect policy outcomes through the use of arguments, targeted lobbying efforts, and other means. Further, they integrate with the research project the creation of a massive web site to serve other researchers and students. For each of the cases, not only do they collect a range of information from public and confidential sources but all of the public information they collect, including versions of legislation, public testimony, press releases by those involved, press coverage, and lobby spending reports, is released in a comprehensive web site for each issue. This allows other researchers access to a well-organized set of raw materials for all manner of subsequent analyses, as well as providing primary source material suitable for teaching courses on U.S. government, Congress, and public policy.
The theoretic focus of this research is based on the ideas of rhetoric, heresthetics, and the related questions of decision-making for complex multidimensional issues. Policy advocates mastering the arts of heresthetics would be able to affect policy outcomes simply by focusing attention on new dimensions of issues or by otherwise altering the context in which policy choices are made. However, there are many constraints on these efforts, including the strategic efforts of policy advocates who disagree, institutional factors and other sources of stability in public advocacy. The researchers explore these questions of strategic redefinition of policy issues and stability in considerable detail, identifying specific hypotheses and showing how these can be systematically tested.
This is a project that will allow numerous other scholars to use the dataset and do subsequent investigations to enhance substantially our understanding of the topic.
|Effective start/end date||7/1/01 → 6/30/04|
- National Science Foundation: $235,930.00