Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

The Mouse that Roared: Agenda-Setting in Canadian Pesticides Politics

Author:Sarah Pralle
Date: 2006
Publication:Policy Studies Journal 34 (2), 171-194

Issue redefinition and venue shopping have been identified as key strategies for enacting agenda and policy change, but much work remains to be done in elaborating these processes. I argue that an important aspect of issue redefinition involves shifting not only the image of an issue but also the bases for considering those issues—what I call policy principles. Policy principles are the core values, beliefs, or guidelines attached to policies that help direct decision making. The emergence and acceptance of new principles by the public and policymakers can be a vital source of policy change, at times having far greater consequences for policy than redefining an issue. Venue shopping is also a multifaceted undertaking involving efforts by policy entrepreneurs and advocacy groups to keep issues out of venues they would rather not participate in as well as move decision making to new arenas. Moreover, while the literature suggests that shifting venues is usually a sensible strategy, sometimes venue shopping can backfire. A case study of the municipal movement to restrict the nonessential use of lawn and garden pesticides in Canada illustrates these theoretical points and shows the applicability of agenda setting models to contexts outside the United States.


Sarah Pralle
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 05/08/2008 10:58:22