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the institutions and processes through which public policies are made for a society

public goods

goods such as clean air and clean water, goods that everyone share


the process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue, produces authoritative decisions about public policies

policymaking system

the process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time; people's interest, problems, and concerns create political issues for government policymakers- these issues shape policy, which in turn impacts people, generating more interests, problems, and concerns

linkage institutions

the political channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the policy agenda; includes elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media

policy agenda

the issues that attract serious attention of public officials and other people actually involved in parties at any given point in time

political issue

an issue that arises when people disagree about a problem and how to fix it

policymaking institutions

the branches of government charged with taking action on political issues: 1) Congress, 2) Presidency, 3) Courts, 4) Bureaucracy

public policy

a choice that government makes in response to a political issue


a course of action taken with regard to some problem

policy impacts

the effects that a policy has on people and on society's problems


a system of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the public's preferences

majority rule

a fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory; choosing among alternatives requires that the majority is respected

minority rights

a principle of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not belong to majorities and allows that they might join majorities through persuasion and reasoned argument


a basic principle of traditional democratic theory that describes the relationship between the few leaders and the many followers

pluralist theory

a theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred politics

elite and class theory

a theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided among class lines and that an upper class will rule regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization


a theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened

policy gridlock

a condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy; the result is that nothing may get done

political culture

consists of an overall set of values widely shared within a society

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