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Matthew C. Nowlin

Assistant professor of political science at the College of Charleston

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The Climate Change Policy Regime and Information Networks in the United States Congress

This is a working draft, please do not cite without permission


Conference: Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, April 2016


Abstract: Policy subsystems have long been the major unit of analysis for scholars of the policy process. However, recently scholars have noted that many vexing policy issues span the traditional boundaries of subsystems and operate in a trans-subsystem space where multiple subsystems are linked by institutional arrangements and a common policy issue. These types of governing arrangements have been termed policy regimes. Global climate change is just such a vexing issue; it spans multiple policy areas and contains a high degree of complexity. The type of policy regime that structures a policy issue can have implications for the types of policies that are adopted (or not) to address the issue. Using data from congressional hearings about climate change since 1976, I establish the structure of the information network within the climate change policy regime at the federal level. Specifically, using network analysis I determine the connections between the subsystems, congressional committees, and policy actors that make up the climate change policy regime. The findings suggest that the climate change information network consists of a core-periphery, with a few core congressional committees and witnesses, as well as a set of committees and witnesses on the periphery.


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