The Transformation of Ideas: The Origin and Evolution of Punctuated Equilibrium Theory

Rebecca Eissler, Annelise Russell, Bryan D. Jones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

16 Scopus citations


How do we explain shifts in a less predictable policy process characterized by abrupt policy shifts and long periods of stability? This process of episodic change is the fundamental axiom behind Punctuated Equilibrium Theory (PET). This argument was initially applied to agenda setting, but PET has evolved over the years beyond its origins to include numerous facets of the policy process. Scholars studying attention and framing—critical components of agenda setting, each worthy of individual consideration—have utilized the PET framework to understand how policy is defined. These core components were further disassembled when studies examined the unifying component of information processing. The applicability of PET is not only due to its generalizability, but also due to scholars’ efforts to understand the component parts of PET analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Series on Public Policy
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameInternational Series on Public Policy
ISSN (Print)2524-7301
ISSN (Electronic)2524-731X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s).


  • Agenda Setting
  • Policy Change
  • Policy Entrepreneur
  • Policy Process
  • Political System

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Public Administration


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