Kingdon’s Policy Windows:
Three Case Studies
Lauren Siegel and Rachel Bjorhus
Overview: Kingdon’s Policy
Kingdon’s policy windows model is easily
applied to a variety of policies and assists in
understanding how policy action unfolds.
 Will apply to three case studies:
◦ Immigration reform
◦ Gun control
◦ Reauthorization of VAWA
Answering the questions: how did the
windows open and how long were/will they
stay open?
Kingdon’s Framework
Policy windows
◦ Problem Windows
◦ Political Windows
◦ Predictable Windows
 Solutions drawn from the policy stream
 Coupling and joining of the streams
 Role of entrepreneurs in coupling process
Comprehensive Immigration
Immigration Reform and Control Act of
1986 last comprehensive action
 Most recent attempt in 2007
 Impact of recession; anti-immigrant
 Variety of interest groups: business, labor,
social advocates, state governments
 When did the window open and how long
will it be open?
◦ Very recently
◦ Not very long
The Policy Window and Joining the
Problem Stream-Growing number of
-Labor needs of a
struggling economy
-Social welfare system
-Increasing number of
state-level actions
Political Stream-Obama’s reelection
importance of Latino
in the House
-Increasing pressure
from business/labor
community and
Policy Stream-Obama’s inclusion in
second term agenda
- “Gang of Eight”
bipartisan Senators’
policy proposals
-Previous proposals
from labor and
education advocates
When Will the Window Close?
Congressional action appears imminent
◦ “Gang of Eight’s proposal expected in
coming weeks
 Current political context plays important
role, both in Presidential agenda setting
and in bipartisan consensus building (due
to electoral politics implications)
Gun Control: Before the Policy
Societal Predisposition
 The second amendment: “A well regulated
militia, being necessary to the security of
the free State, the right of the people to
keep and bear Arms, shall not be
 Regulation versus Rights
 The Founding Fathers instituted intrusive
control laws. (Winkler, 2011)
Confusion Over Indicators
Opening the Current Policy
Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary
 Mass shootings reportedly not on the
rise (O’Neill, 2012)
 On the heels of shootings in:
◦ Aurora, CO at the premier of Dark Knight
◦ Oak Creek, WI at a Sikh Temple
◦ Tucson, AZ- Rep. Gabrielle Gifford
The Policy Window and Joining the
Problem Stream-Newtown as the
focusing event
-Mental illness
-Enforcing current
-Not enough laws
Political Stream-Obama appointed
Biden as head of task
-Democratic Senate
and Republican
-continued media
-state-level successes
Policy Stream-23 executive actions
for reforms
-Current bi-partisan
Keeping the Window Open
(Hayes, 2013)
When Will the Window Close?
Very soon- April 6th report says
Democratic Leaders will be meeting
 May have to scale back measures to gain
more bi-partisan support
 Will likely pass as the most
comprehensive federal gun control
A Predictable Policy Window: The
Violence Against Women
Reauthorization Act
Funds the investigation and prosecution of
violent crimes against women, as well as DOJ’s
Office on Violence Against Women
 Originally passed in 1994 with a 235-195 vote
with bipartisan support
 In 2000 and 2005 it was reauthorized with
amendment that extended protections from
gendered violence
 The window opened in 2011 when it was due
for reauthorization
However, Maybe Not So
VAWA was expired for over a year before
the 2012 renewal was making progress
 The reauthorization was not fully
resolved until February 2013-passed 286138
 This reauthorization by far took the
 How does this fit into Kingdon’s
Violence Against Women Act
Reauthorization 2011-2013
Problem Stream-Reauthorization
-Continued need for
services and
programming related
to gender-based
Political Stream-Democratic
Executive and Senate,
Republican House
-Pressure from
Reproductive Rights
Interest Groups
-The role of states
Policy Stream-The Senateprotections for
same-sex couples,
individuals, as well as
grants to tribal
-The House
excluded all of this.
The Policy Window Closed
February 2013
This reauthorization decreased
appropriations for all of its programming
 Has all of the Senate’s intended
protections for undocumented individuals,
those that identify as LGBT and Native
American women
 Continues all programming, including
education-based, non-direct services
How do you think Kingdon’s model of
“riding a policy wave” fits with principles
taught in our policy analysis courses?
Do you agree or disagree with our
analyses of these three issues?
Briggs,V.M. (2012). The Elusive Goal: The Quest for a Credible
Immigration Policy. Policy Analysis and Management, 31(4), p. 956 963.
Follman, M., Aronson, G. & Pan, D. (2013). A Guide to Mass
Shootings in America. Mother Jones.
Hayes, D. (2013). Why This Gun Control Debate Has Been
Different. The Washington Post.
Kingdon, J. W. (2011). Agenda, Alternative, and Public Policies.
National Task Force To End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against
Women. (2013). Summary of Changes from VAWA Reauthorization
O’Neill, H. (2012). Mass Shootings Not on the Rise, but Their
Impact is Huge. Associated Press.
Overview of Kingdon’s Theory. [Flow Chart]. (n.d.).
Squire & Moncreif (2010). State Legislatures Today: Politics Under
the Domes, Chapter 6.
This Time, It's different. (2012). The Economist, 405 (8812), p. 30 -31
Winkler, A. (2011). The Secret History of Guns. The Atlantic.

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