Edited by Nikolaos Zahariadis
Chapter 6: Multiple streams approach: a flexible metaphor presents an opportunity to operationalize agenda setting processes
John Kingdon’s multiple streams analysis (MSA) reminds us that the exciting world of short-term, unstable, high-profile agenda setting is tempered by long-term, continuous processes going on behind the scenes. Shifts of public, media and policymaker attention to a new problem can be dramatic, but policy may only change dramatically when policymakers have the willingness and ability to solve it. We take this agenda forward by describing MSA’s main concepts, considering the extent to which its ‘universal’ insights apply to any study of agenda setting, comparing its original application in the federal US with the many ways in which it has been applied in new arenas, and considering the extent to which this flexibility comes at a cost: is it difficult to ‘operationalize’ MSA, to move beyond a flexible metaphor and identify, precisely, the meaning and causal effect of its main elements?
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