Defined in very general terms, policy beliefs are just statements that reveal what an organization or person believes in, and why the organization or person is currently advocating a particular policy position. Being relatively straightforward, policy beliefs play a key role in the policy process. Advocacy groups, concerned citizens, policymakers, and other organized lobbying entities use their policy beliefs to influence executive and legislative policymakers to pass specific policy changes. As a result, policy beliefs constitute the core of American politics.
Although they often lead to specific policy changes, many like-minded advocacy groups, concerned citizens, policymakers, and other organized lobbying entities have similar policy beliefs. For example, many environmental advocacy groups share a common set of policy beliefs that emphasize environmental protection by increasing governmental regulatory efforts on specific chemical releases into the environment. When different environmental advocacy groups, concerned citizens, policymakers, and other organized lobbying entities share similar policy beliefs, political scientists often categorize them together as one advocacy coalition. Therefore, from the view of political science, any policy subsystem typically has at least one advocacy coalition influencing the policy process with its policy beliefs.
Policy core beliefs are general statements that identify what an organization or person believes. For example, a pro-environmental group may have policy core beliefs that state that the group believes in increasing governmental regulations of chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment. In contrast, a pro-chemical group may have policy core beliefs that state that the group believes in reducing governmental regulations of chemicals in order to enhance profitability for chemical manufacturers. Secondary policy beliefs are more specific.
They reveal the level of support for a specific piece of legislation that impacts a policy subsystem. For example, a pro-environmental group may have a secondary policy belief that supports a specific piece of legislation that increases groundwater monitoring for an especially toxic chemical. In contrast, a pro-chemical group may have a secondary policy belief that does not support the same piece of legislation because of concerns about the impact of increased monitoring on future sales of the chemical in question.
Both types of beliefs play an important part in policy analysis. Political scientists use policy core beliefs to categorize similar advocacy groups, concerned citizens, policymakers, and other organized lobbying entities as one advocacy coalition. Additionally, political scientists use secondary policy beliefs to analyze the evolution of a policy subsystem and the impact of an advocacy coalition's policy beliefs on policy change. This essay analyzes the use of these two types of policy beliefs in federal pesticide regulations by asking 1) Do the policy core beliefs of like-minded advocacy groups possess enough uniformity to justify categorization of these groups into larger advocacy coalitions 2) If uniform advocacy coalitions exist, do their secondary policy beliefs toward pesticide regulations change over time 3) Are increases in compromises in