A description of policy analysis, a rational method for making policy choices on social problems. It is related to systems analysis, which is inadequate for treating complex social issues because it (1) ignores political needs and established institutions; (2) cannot deal with irrational phenomena or value conflicts; (3) cannot invent new alternatives; and (4) requires numerous alternatives with predictable results and quantifiable variables. Four objects of policy analysis are (1) policy strategies, i.e., determining the postures, assumptions, and main guidelines of specific policies; (2) value questions, including time preferences and unknown future values; (3) understanding and predicting political behavior and feasibility; and (4) using a policy analysis network (presented with a variety of visual aids) to combine into a meaningful whole all dimensions of an issue revealed by a policy analysis, and to identify main interconnections with other issues and systems.
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