Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Governance, Administration Policies
B. Guy Peters
Some decades ago, in the early 1950s, Harold Lasswell defined politics as “who gets what.” This simple but powerful definition emphasizes the fundamental point that virtually all political action is directed toward using the power of the public sector to allocate goods and services among the members of a society. Some politics is symbolic and emotive, but to some extent even those components of political action may help legitimate the political system and the decisions it must make about allocations of costs and benefits among citizens. Citizens may be willing to accept allocations with which they do not agree in part because of their emotional attachment to their government and the legitimacy associated with that attachment. This entry examines basic questions about making and implementing public policy in contemporary political systems. Perhaps the broadest possible manner in which to consider this process of allocating goods and services through the public ...