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date: 30 March 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter comments on Anthony Downs’s 1972 seminal paper “Up and Down with Ecology: The ‘Issue-Attention’ Cycle,” which tackles the concept of “public” or “issue” attention. Focusing on domestic policy, particularly environmental policy in the United States, Downs describes a process called “issue-attention cycle,” by which the public gains and loses interest in a particular issue over time. This chapter summarizes studies that directly put Downs’s propositions to the test, laying emphasis on research that probes the existence of and interrelationships among the public attention cycle, media attention cycle, and government attention cycle. It then reviews the main arguments put forward by Downs before concluding with a discussion of promising avenues for future research as well as important theoretical and methodological questions that need further elucidation.

Keywords: Anthony Downs, environmental policy, United States, issue-attention cycle, public attention cycle, media attention cycle, government attention cycle, domestic policy

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