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American Public Opinion, Advocacy, and Policy in Congress

What the Public Wants and What It Gets



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American Public Opinion, Advocacy, and Policy in Congress by Paul Burstein
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Between one election and the next, members of Congress introduce thousands of bills. What determines which become law? Is it the public? Do we have government 'of the people, by the people, for the people?' Or is it those who have the resources to organize and pressure government who get what they want? In the first study ever of a random sample of policy proposals, Paul Burstein finds that the public can get what it wants - but mainly on the few issues that attract its attention. Does this mean organized interests get what they want? Not necessarily - on most issues there is so little political activity that it hardly matters. Politics may be less of a battle between the public and organized interests than a struggle for attention. American society is so much more complex than it was when the Constitution was written that we may need to reconsider what it means, in fact, to be a democracy.

Author Biography

Paul Burstein is Professor of Sociology, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, and Samuel and Althea Stroum Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of Discrimination, Jobs, and Politics: The Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity in the United States Since the New Deal, and has published on topics including policy change; public opinion; social movements; interest organizations; congressional action on work, family, and gender; and the mobilization of law; with articles appearing in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, the American Political Science Review, Political Research Quarterly, the Sociological Forum, the Law and Society Review, and other journals. He has been elected to the Council and the Publications Committee of the American Sociological Association and to the position of Chair of the ASA's Political Sociology section. He has also served on the editorial boards of twelve journals in sociology, political science and other fields.
Release date NZ
January 20th, 2014
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
22 Tables, unspecified; 1 Line drawings, unspecified
Cambridge University Press
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