What is “public policy”? Explain the three models of how public policy operates.  

Public policy is considered to be, generally, a series of on going goal oriented actions that handle real and perceived problems in government and society. For the most part, public policy is undertaken by public, private, legislative, or executive organizations. What is tricky about defining public policy is that it is not an agreed-upon term in general, so it may be better to explain how public policy works rather than what it is. There are several models of public policy that are commonly used to change the way that problems function.

Group theory, which is also referred to as pluralism is a policy method that relies on competing groups to solve policy and public issues. The way that this competition is utilized is through the differing groups of ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups that create special interest, thusly placing pressure on government entities. With the competing interests of each of the groups, there is more than one or two angles that government receives pressure from. Ultimately the group that sees the most policy change is the one with the most backing support and best leadership and angle.

The elite theory of public policy focuses on smaller, elite groups of individuals wielding more power to create change in public policy. This is done not through influence, but through actual action by these elites, setting the policy themselves. The power elite are responsible for the decisions to change the policy in this theory, reflecting the notions of these small groups and individuals. This model does not necessarily reflect the interests of majority or minority groups, but rather the, sometime very specific, desires of the individuals in power.

A third model is that of corporatism. This model seeks to not simply influence public policy, but to actually change it through direct action and interaction. This system of change seeks to become of the policy making, such as getting positions in government think tanks, policy meetings, and hearings. Being a part of the process gives this model power in changing public policy.