The 5 Contexts of Public Policy

A public policy is a decision made for a state or country. Since it affects a great number of people, it must be carefully considered and planned. Reasons may vary, but sometimes, it has to be replaced by a new one. That is how things go in the government administration. Interestingly, all policies are designed by keeping a theme in mind. We can call it the product of contextIn US, we have 5 of them and they are: Government, Political, Economic, Cultural and Social. Below each is explained in details. Do note that while some policies are driven by just one context, the rest can have multiple.

1. Government context

In unity, there is strength, but not all of us think in the same way. According to Constitution of US, President and Congress must approve a federal policy before it can become effective for the general public or others. Unfortunately, things are not smooth in this matter. If a policy looks unsuitable to Congress or President it will either be dropped or forced to go through changes. In between, lots of debates take place and this eventually influences the wordings in the policy. The idea is that all officials should be able to agree to whatever is in it. 

2. Political context

Policies are influenced by the views of political parties. Just think about abortion and gay marriage. Liberals and conservatives do not have same view on them. Taxing the rich has similar air. Traditionally, when a President from Republican party wins, we see a decline in the amount of tax they are charged. Interest groups are the third in line to influence policies politically. They do this by paying to government officials to speak on their behalves. At times, the federal departments play similar role. For instance, when government decided to cut defense budget, defense department paid university researchers to have a study done to show its negative effect. The aim was to prevent the cut.

3. Economic context

Many policies are influenced by economic situations. When there is a crisis, government is expected to eliminate it through policies. Even when the economy is doing well, government is expected to act to give it more boost. Government has several tools for it. The economic situation in United States has given some of the most useful policies for the general public and one of them is Social Security Act. It was passed in 1935 when we had the great depression.

4. Cultural context

Think about red and blue states. While the red one is said to be conservative, the blue one is taken as liberal. We see the map depicting this at the time of election.  This division occurs from party preferences of the majority voters. However, even during any normal day, we hear that Texans are more leaned towards the ideologies of Republican party. Californians are taken as extremely liberal and prefer to lean more towards the ideologies of Democrat party. This entire element is connected to how citizens think and show support for policies. This in turn influences how these policies are made. In sociology, citizen's involvement in the government  is called political culture. In many cases, citizens do not affect a policy because of some political party. United States has a free society. This means government does not have the right to get into someone's personal life unless the person has violated some kind of law. So if certain policies compromise the freedom of the majority and if citizens become aware of this they have full right to tell the government to shed them. They do this by either mass demonstrations, joining in interest groups or emailing senators. 

5. Social context

Majority of the policies are influenced by the social conditions of the country. Think about how we have laws to fight various crimes. When health insurance premiums began to skyrocket no longer remaining compatible to economic recession, we were forced to head towards Affordable Care Act. Simply put, government is expected to solve social problems. That is why, the social context plays a huge role in policy creation.
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