Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies

Author(s): John W. Kingdon

Agenda, Alternatives, and Public Policies


Kingdon’s landmark work on agenda setting and policy formation is drawn from interviews conducted with people in and around the U.S. federal government, and from case studies, government documents, party platforms, press coverage, and public opinion surveys. While other works examine how policy issues are decided, Kingdon’s book was the first to consider how issues got to be issues. This enduring work attempts to answer the questions: How do subjects come to officials’ attention? How are the alternatives from which they choose generated? How is the governmental agenda set? Why does an idea’s time come when it does? (Pearson).

First published in 1984, Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies was reissued in 1995 and most recently, in 2011, in a Longman Classics edition, featuring a new epilogue: Health Care Reform from Clinton to Obama. Comparing the Clinton administration in 1993 with the Obama administration in 2009 and 2010, Kingdon analyses how agenda setting, actors, and alternatives affect public policy.

Publication Information:

Publisher: Longman

Year of Publication: 1984