Focus Event and Public Policy

  • Christopher L. AtkinsonEmail author
Living reference work entry



A focus event or focusing event is an occurrence, typically exogenous, which emphasizes or highlights a challenge that seems to demand non-incremental public policy intervention, or catalyzes a previously vague understanding of a public problem, potentially highlighting a preferred path forward for policy intervention.


A focusing event (Throughout this entry, I refer to the term as “focusing events,” consistent with a perceived preference in the literature.), also called a focus event or a triggering event, is an occurrence that can make government decision-makers aware of the existence of a problem. In the literature, the event is usually from outside the policy apparatus and its structures. It is a “push…like a crisis or disaster that comes along to call attention to the problem, a powerful symbol that catches on, or the personal experience of a policy maker” (Kingdon 2003, pp. 94–95)....

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Administration & LawUniversity of West FloridaPensacolaUSA