Agenda Setting Process Explained

Agenda setting is the first element in policy cycle and can be somewhat complicated in a country where people's freedom is the culture. Government cannot personally go around solving each person's problem. In fact, unnecessary intervention can get the government officials sued. For instance, in US, we have the constitution which gives citizens some special rights like freedom of speech, expression, right to bear arms and so on. There are also certain rules designed to prevent the government from getting overly powerful. But constitution does not exactly have medication for every issue and government does not have time to go around tracking them. Then, how will they know how to get to the agenda to design a new policy? The answer lies in agenda setting process consisting of three parts. Before understanding them it is important to know first the true meaning of agenda setting.

Meaning of Agenda Setting

It is the process through which an issue floats from one political source to another, eventually demanding consideration from the government.

The Process

Problem seen: The actor in this part can be anyone ranging from concerned citizen and interest group to political party.

Mass witness: Public is made aware of the problem by newspapers, news channels or massive uproar in the form of protest. At this stage, the problem is made to appear dramatic.
Demand for action: There will always be a group of journalists, news reporters and interest groups forcing government to pay attention to the problem. They actually do this job so well that at this stage the problem is given the shape of a national problem. Government cannot overlook this and thus is compelled to take action through a policy.

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