The World Changed Today: Agenda-Setting and Policy Change in the Wake of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks

"Focusing events" are those happenings, such as the September 11 terrorist attacks, that focus attention on a range of related issues. The literature on focusing events, policy change and the policy process suggests that the windows of opportunity opened by focusing events like the September 11 attacks do not automatically equate to policy change. This paper considers whether and to what extent the agenda and polices have changed as a result of the attacks. Findings suggest that, while the events of September 11 provided the impetus for change, the threat of terrorism was already well established in the policy stream. September 11 only threw open the window of opportunity for policy change based, in large part, on preexisting ideas; many of these ideas were enacted as a result. In the case of aviation security, the key regulatory agency has taken actions, including the strengthening of cockpit security, directly triggered by the event. There is also evidence that some instrumental policy learning has resulted from the September 11 attacks, including a commission to investigate the reason why the attacks were successful. Findings also show some organizational change that could be the result of instrumental learning has occurred, such as the creation of the Transportation Security Agency and the combination of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's and Central Intelligence Agency's counterterrorism functions.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 179-200
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01001521
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 3 2005 5:42PM