Cover image for Encyclopedia of American public policy
Encyclopedia of American public policy
Jackson, Byron M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxi, 230 pages ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK468.P64 J33 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Public policy rules our lives, from federal environmental regulations and state testing of doctors to city dog licensing and municipal parking restrictions. Cutting through the complexities of this vast and often misunderstood subject, this unique reference work illuminates important concepts, terms, actors, legislation, and milestones of American public policy.

Author Notes

Byron M. Jackson is vice provost for academic affairs and dean of undergraduate education at California State University, Chico, Chico, CA.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here is an easy-to-read although sometimes cursory volume intended to provide "quick and sufficient" answers to questions on public policy for high-school and college students. Jackson has many years of experience teaching public policy to undergraduates at California State University at Chico. His goal for this book, as stated in the preface, was to be clear and understandable so those students would want to learn more about the topics covered. The first section of the encyclopedia discusses "key concepts," from Accountability to Vertical federalism, and serves as a concise review. The remainder of the volume is organized into 13 major policy areas including "Agriculture," "Civil Rights," "Commerce," "Crime," "Economics," and "Labor." Each section begins with a brief chronology of major landmark policies, followed by from less than 10 to more than 50 A^-Z entries "written with the goal of explaining the legislative process and how policy is actually made." "Civil Rights" includes such entries as Affirmative action; Americans with Disabilities Act; Du Bois, W. E. B.; and Glass ceiling; while "Labor" includes Child labor laws; Comparable worth; and Immigration and Naturalization Service. Entries are short and each includes see also references plus a short bibliography. Some of the entries are too brief and some terms are not fully explained. For example, Job Corps and Volunteers in Service to America are mentioned under Job training programs in the "Labor" section, but their relationship to labor policy is not discussed. This book is one of only a few current volumes to look at public policy issues. Titles such as the Encyclopedia of Policy Studies (2d ed., M. Dekker, 1994), the Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System (3v., Scribner, 1994), or the Encyclopedia of Modern American Social Issues [RBB Ap 1 98] are related but don't provide the clarity this volume does, particularly for students with little understanding of public policy issues. Recommended for use in public libraries, in high schools, and for college undergraduates to access those "quick" answers and as a jumping-off point for future study.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-As political concepts are sometimes elusive and difficult for students to grasp, this title will be greeted with enthusiasm for its accessibility as well as for the quality of its information. The focus of the book is the major areas of domestic political activity since 1789. An introductory essay provides an excellent overview of the subject while the first section of alphabetically arranged entries on "Key Concepts" covers such topics as "Accountability," "Balance of Payments," and "Vertical Federalism." Following this section are 13 others that cover important areas of public policy making including "Civil Rights," "Education," "Energy," and "Environment." These chapters each begin with a chronology followed by alphabetical entries. For example, the articles under "Civil Rights" include individuals, documents, and concepts such as "Susan B. Anthony," "Emancipation Proclamation," and "Glass Ceiling." The entries range in length from a paragraph to two pages. In his discussions, Jackson examines how a particular policy benefits or affects its target group and whether it achieved its intended purpose. Each entry concludes with see-also references and list of additional resources. The language is clear, concise, and readable. The topical table of contents provides additional access points. This compact, useful resource will fill a gap in many collections.-Marsha S. Holden, Highland Community College, Freeport, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In this readable and informative encyclopedia, Jackson (California State Univ., Chico) indicates a passion for political history and uses the introductions and chronologies at the beginning of each chapter to place policy issues in a historical context. Access to the material is made easy through an extensive table of contents and a detailed index. A "key concepts" section provides succinct definitions to common and technical terms related to public policy (e.g., "Policy cycle," "Iron triangle"). Entries in the encyclopedia proper vary in length and detail, but all conclude with helpful see also and bibliography sections. Moreover, to the benefit of lower-division undergraduates, the straightforward articles do not get bogged down in a web of theoretical models, as does Thomas Dye's Understanding Public Policy (CH, Sep'73; 9th ed., 1998). The author tends to ignore the actors that initiated public policy, relying instead on describing the policy after implementation. Although similar coverage may be found in William Safire's Safire's New Political Dictionary (1993) or Encyclopedia of Government and Politics, ed. by Mary Hawkesworth and Maurice Kogan (CH, Mar'93), Jackson's volume finds its niche by providing both subject-specific definitions and context. General readers and lower-division undergraduates. S. W. Nicholson; Michigan State University