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Public Policy

Anke Hassel, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), 2015


Public policy is a set of decisions by governments and other political actors to influence, change, or frame a problem or issue that has been recognized as in the political realm by policy makers and/or the wider public. Scientific approaches toward public policies have proliferated over the postwar period as the size and scope of government interventions have continuously expanded. The study of public policy includes policy analysis or policy science, which identifies effective policy measures, policy instruments, which a government can employ, and the policy process, which analyses how a government comes to take a decision.

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Public Policy

Rune Elvik, in Handbook of Traffic Psychology, 2011

Public policy refers to any action taken by public bodies in order to influence highway safety. Although transport policy in general has several objectives, the focus in this chapter is on policy designed to improve safety. The role of traffic psychology in contributing to an effective road safety policy is discussed. The following main questions are addressed in this chapter:1.

What are the principal elements of road safety policy? At what stages of policy making can traffic psychology contribute?2.

What is the scope for improving road safety by applying knowledge gained in traffic psychology and related disciplines?

It is shown in this chapter that traffic psychology can make a major contribution to improving highway safety by informing public policy.

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Public Policy

M. Perry, in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2009

Geography can demonstrate its practical relevance by contributing to public policy that addresses problems in the real world. The relationship between policy work and the development of theories, ideas, concepts, and methods that form the core of the discipline is potentially mutually supportive but often it has been a source of tension. Most geographers believe that more attention needs to be given to enhancing the public policy contribution, although the extent of the shortfall perceived varies between those who advocate ‘public geography’ and those who adopt a narrow conception of how contributions to policy are made. Whatever form it takes, geographers tend to see that they offer ‘deep’ policy analysis, while policy makers often seek only a ‘shallow’ policy analysis.

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Developments in the Theory and Practice of Cybercartography

María del Carmen Reyes, … Rodolfo Sánchez-Sandoval, in Modern Cartography Series, 2014

3.3.2 Territorial Public Policies

Public policy expresses the goals, decisions, and actions adopted by a government for political, social, and economic management. There is an increasing need for policies to be formulated by establishing close connections with academics, the responsible politicians, and society. In the process to develop and implement public policies with a scientific approach, Sabatier, 1988 has focused his studies on the Advocacy Coalition Framework and Policy-Oriented Learning. In addition, approaching the territorial dimension from a theoretical framework has been a key element in providing geocybernetic solutions for public policies in over 60 projects developed based on this schema.

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Public Policy: Ethics

Andrzej Klimczuk, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), 2015


Public policy includes directly or indirectly making ethical judgments. Ethical decisions are taken mainly by policy makers by selection and reconciliation of interests represented by individuals, groups, and organizations. Public policy is based on the balancing individual and social values. From those value arise its objectives, principles, and styles of policy implementation and intervention. All choices and decisions in public policy on each stages of policy cycle are ethical judgments because they presuppose that some things are more important than other, that some actions will have positive and other will have negative impact on society. Policy debates can be more productive by using ethical approaches. Ethics enables a systematic analysis of the rules and standards as well as the selection of rational public decisions.

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Preventing Body Image Problems

S.J. Paxton, in Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance, 2012


Public policy approaches to the prevention of body image problems are very new. However, even in the few years that national, state, and city governments have been articulating and implementing public policy initiatives in this field, some very creative and potentially valuable approaches have emerged. Governments have implemented legislation, voluntary industry Codes of Conduct and Charters, social marketing campaigns, and school-based and community initiatives. Although at present it is hard to quantify the effect of these approaches in preventing body image problems, when a government uses each of these approaches together in a concerted and maintained manner, guided by existing research, fundamental social and environmental changes are possible. Engaging governments in multilevel public policy initiatives to prevent body image problems holds the key to prevention on a population scale.

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Data-driven policy evaluation

Marçal Farré, … Carlos Carrasco-Farré, inImplementing Data-Driven Strategies in Smart Cities, 2022

1 Introduction

Public policies should be designed and implemented, whenever possible, using evidence as rigorous as possible. Urban interventions then should be no exception. In recent times, we have witnessed increasing efforts to transform information into knowledge, and thus help policymakers make better decisions. In this chapter, we will explore how public policy evaluation helps municipal governments tackle social problems and how big data can improve the design and implementation of more effective, efficient, and transparent policies.

The structure of this chapter is as follows: First, we describe what public policy evaluation is, what knowledge it produces, and how it can be used for designing and implementing better polices. Second, we describe the role of data in public policy and what new opportunities and challenges arise from big data in the context of urban interventions. Third, examples of evaluations that use big data to generate valuable insights for urban policies are shown. Finally, the chapter concludes by summarizing the main learnings and takeaways to leverage the power of big data to inform and support decision-making.

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Policy History: Origins

I. Katznelson, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001

1 Introduction

Public policy is as old as the history of human governance. All rulers, irrespective of the form of public rule, have sought to shape and manage the substantive order governed under their authority. Modern public policy composes a narrower domain. Co-extensive with the complex, and continuing, process of state formation (and de-formation) begun in late medieval and early modern Europe (Tilly 1975), public policy has come to refer more specifically both to what governments do as they transact with civil society, the economy, and states within a global state system and to the creation and deployment of knowledge about these sites of authoritative transactions. The semi-independent origins of policy knowledge and policy activity constitute my subject. I focus primarily on two formative moments in the West: (a) the early modern period marked by the growing concentration of state sovereignty over territory and people, and (b) the midnineteenth through to the early twentieth century when the ‘social question’ and unaccustomed levels and forms of international violence pressed to the fore. ‘Origins’ itself a word with a composite meaning. It refers both to the beginnings of a process and to the constituent elements of what comes next. The results of decisions taken at the critical junctures I discuss, set in motion developmental pathways that further defined the contours of modern public policy.

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Fertility Transition: Middle East and North Africa

H.M. Yousif, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001

7 Impacts of Public Policies on the Fertility Transition

Public policies in the MENA countries provided the ideological and operational context for the fertility transition. During the period 1950–70, population issues in the AMENA countries were seen as long-term problems of secondary importance, neither pressing nor urgent (Yousif et al. 1996). The reproductive role of women was regarded more important than their education and participation in modern employment. This public policy stand was evident during the International Population Conference in Bucharest in 1974. Delegates from the AMENA countries invariably argued in support of development, as opposed to family planning, as the best method for resolving population problems. Ten years later, by 1984, the political stand of these governments had changed, and in 1994 several AMENA countries reached an advanced stage on issues of population policy and development. Also, government support to population policies and programs gained importance, albeit at different times, in the AMENA countries.

Public policy in some countries changed direction several times. In Egypt, for instance, the government was against the use of modern contraceptive methods during the 1960s and 1970s. Starting in 1980, the government has changed its stand to support family planning to regulate fertility and address population issues in the country. Its main challenge is in the rural areas, particularly in Upper Egypt, where fertility is highest and the potential for decline greatest.

Sudan and Iran provide other examples of countries with contradictory or vacillating public policies on population issues. The Sudan family planning program, which was progressing well during the 1970s and 1980s, has recently come to a standstill due to lack of government support. In Iran, the government’s opposition to family planning after the Islamic revolution in 1979 has now changed completely to the opposite (Courbage 1999). In the Gulf States public policies on population issues and family planning are in their infancy.

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Public Policies and the Next Steps in the Evolution of Women’s Aging

Lisa Hollis-Sawyer, Amanda Dykema-Engblade, in Women and Positive Aging, 2016

Changing Definition of “Quality-of-Life” Standards for Older Women Across the World

Public policies directly impact the quality of life of those within a society, and everyone is a key “stakeholder” in the process of establishing standards of aging well (Everingham, Lui, Bartlett, Warburton, & Cuthill, 2010). For example, self-reported medication usage for older women is an important issue of education and health care system tracking that needs social policy and practice reforms for the health of many generations (in Australia; Dolja-Gore, Pit, Parkinson, Young, & Byles, 2013). Over time, different generations of women within different cultures have experienced changing standards of quality of life. The active involvement and input of older women for the development and/or implementation of societal public policy is a necessity to ensure accurate and effective quality-of-life outcomes.

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