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The Process of Policy-Making by Mead and Stone

The readings by Mead (1982) and Stone (1989) aim at discussing the issues of the development of specific policies that target urgent problems of the society to pursue the nation’s welfare. The main arguments presented by the authors address the social and political issues and the processes of their resolution. More specifically, Mead (1982) argues that despite many economic programs aiding the underclass in America, the government and society need to resolve moral issues to help the poor integrate into the mainstream society.

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The main argument of Stone’s (1989) reading is that in the process of a problem becoming the political agenda, the stories that demonstrate the cause of a problem transform an issue from “the realm of fate to the realm of human agency,” thus making it possible to solve with the help of policy-making (p. 283). Therefore, both articles are aimed at articulating the mechanics and influential factors of policy-making.

It is important to note the authors’ backgrounds and historical environment. Mead is a professor of politics at New York University, a scholar whose ideas of welfare have shaped the reforms of the USA. The article by Mead (1982) was published at the time of Reagan’s first administration when social programs were cut back, and the issue of governmental support for the poor became acute. As for Stone (1989), she is a professor of political sciences who specializes in policy-making processes. The historical background of the time when the article was published was marked by the increased level of attention toward governmental decisions when making a policy aimed at social support, healthcare, and other spheres.

This week’s articles add to the scope of information retrieved from last week’s readings. In particular, the ideas of policy-making as the process where certain conditions are recognized as amendable problems and become the agenda addressed in Kingdon’s book find their resemblance in Stone’s (1989) article. Both authors emphasize the multifaceted character of the agenda-forming process. Also, Mead presents an in-depth view on the validity and effectiveness of the governmental programs that prioritize economic features in policy-making. This idea relates to those of Kingdon, who states that only the problems that impact many participants apply to agenda-setting.

To present the summaries of the two articles, the first reading concentrates on the phenomenon of welfare and the factors that contribute to or obstruct it. According to Mead (1982), the majority of federal programs prioritize financial support to target the economic challenges of the poor by providing assets for the spheres of education, health, and employment. The reason for such prioritization is the ability of the authorities to control the expenditures and trace the results of policy application.

However, federal programs do not address other behavioral issues that could foster the integration of lower-class citizens into American society, such as criminal inclinations, dysfunctional family, employment, and educational relationships. Therefore, it is essential to apply social obligations to eliminate the obstacles to welfare imposed by the programs.

Similarly, Stone (1989) articulates how the connections between moral and political aspects of life determine what problems become the agenda. The narrative, often emotionally colored presentation of causal stories which enable finding a source of harm, responsible individuals, and those affected by it.

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The author thinks that the application of causal stories facilitates the process of policy-making. Indeed, if one applies this idea to the extracurricular program for veteran students, the identification of the cause of their particular needs amplifies the chances for them to be addressed. Conclusively, the two articles share a similar approach to defining the process of policy-making. They perceive it as the one that depends not only on the governmental perception of urgent problems but also on the contribution of different social and political actors. Thus, agenda setting and the creation of programs are multifaceted and require an integrative political method to ensure national welfare.


Mead, L. M. (1982). Social programs and social obligations. Public Interest, 69, 17-32.

Stone, D. A. (1989). Causal stories and the formation of policy agendas. Political Science Quarterly, 104(2), 281-300.

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