Framing the Problem:
How to define a policy problem
Two purposes for defining a problem are presented in this chapter, getting a problem onto the public agenda (Purpose A) and aiding policy choice by analysis of solutions (Purpose B). Arguably, the two do not belong together in a chapter on problem definition. Defining a problem is not solving it. From the perspective of communication, however, both defining problems and analyzing solutions rely on persuasion (Stone). And so, they are presented here for instruction in purposeful rhetoric. In practice, when you are defining a problem, it is crucial to remain aware of your purpose and not to confuse the two purposes, advocacy and analysis.
Goal: Ability to recognize problematic conditions and to define a policy problem they present. For a recognized problem, ability to define policy options and offer criteria for decision.
Objective: Problem definition
Scope: Individual or collective; local or broader in impact; well-known or unrecognized; widely discussed or little considered; past, present, or anticipated
Strategy: Provide information necessary for your purpose
Expect to be flexible in the writing process. Problem definition can be iterative. After completing a task, you might find that you must revise earlier work. Or, after defining a problem, you might find that you want to, or you must, redefine it because conditions have changed or you have gained more knowledge.