Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Mini-Symposium at the CES 2013 Conference: ‘Analyzing the Evolution of Policy Agendas in Europe and North America

Wednesday, April 17 2013, 9:51

The past years saw a rising interest in the agenda-setting perspective in studies of comparative public policy. Agenda setting is fundamental to policy development and policy change, and recent work has moved significantly beyond case-study based analyses of this process. It analyses long term patterns of attention to problems across different political systems and shows how problems are the currency of competition for attention. The mini-symposium builds on this development and seeks to extend its scope to a greater variety of studies in which agenda setting and policy dynamics are linked, and the impact of shocks and events on attention and saliency of policy problems are explored further. The research sessions thus aim at a further integration of different types of scholarly work on public policy and its driving forces.

The mini-symposium consists of five panels dealing with different aspects of the dynamics of political attention to policy issues across advanced industrialized countries. Core questions addressed in the panels are about the role and impact of media attention on saliency and policy priorities, the visible but often also invisible effects of Europeanization on the national parliamentary agenda (in EU member states but also in countries that are not part of the EU), the connection between political attention and policy change over long periods of time, and policy dynamics of specific issues, such as immigration, crime, and the economy. Another core question is about the ‘agency’ element in agenda dynamics and policy change: the way in which policy entrepreneurs and political actors alike use venues for agenda access and (re)construct images of problems when focus events and shocks happen. The five panels cover a varying geographical scope and are cross-sectional; specific policy topics are analysed in depth, but there are also contributions dealing with linkages between issues, investigating the dynamics of such linkages and the evolution of issues over time. With these different types of scope, the panels are meant to contribute to the understanding of transformations of political agendas, the driving factors, and their policy effects.

MI Research Director Arco Timmermans is co-organising the mini-symposium together with Laura Chaques (University of Barcelona) and Frank Baumgartner (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The topics of the sessions cover different aspects of agenda setting and the long-term evolution of policy processes in countries across the Atlantic. Accepted papers in the panels include contributions of Petya Alexandrova, Gerard Breeman, Marcello Carammia,Leticia Elias, Sebastiaan Princen, Peter Scholten, and others.