The politics of all bag safety: A competition among problem definitions

David J. Houston, Lilliard E. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In light of 121 deaths attributed to air bag deployments, mainly to children and adults of small stature, recent policy debate has focused on modifying current Federal automotive air bag regulations. A problem definition perspective is employed to understand the nature of this debate. Utilizing a content analysis of the official record of one U.S. House and two U. S. Senate hearings, it is argued that four problem definitions characterize the debate over air bag safety: behavioral, regulatory, technological, and corporate greed. Furthermore, it is argued that a problem definition perspective offers a better explanation of recent changes to Federal air bag regulations than do pluralist, elitist, and principal-agent models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-501
Number of pages17
JournalPolicy Studies Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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