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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

E. E. Schattschneider’s short book, The Semi-Sovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America (1960), is an analysis of the functioning of US democracy, especially the struggle between “privatization” and “socialization” of issues as well as the competition for space on a crowded political agenda. Its major contribution was to develop the concept of agenda-setting, the “conflict of conflicts,” as an essential dimension of the policy process. Intended as a “defense of parties” manifesto against the then-popular group theories of politics, Schattschneider’s book was part of the elitist–pluralist debate in its time as well as leading to a variety of later, more empirical studies on various dimensions of the policy process. Schattschneider’s ideas have inspired many subsequent studies on agenda-setting, both in the US and abroad. This chapter examines the longer-term impact of these ideas as well as the book’s shortcomings, such as lack of attention to the media.

Keywords: Elmer E. Schattschneider, Semi-Sovereign People, democracy, politics, public policy, agenda-setting, America, conflict of conflicts

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