Jessica Boscarino

Marist College
Political Science

Fontaine Hall, Marist College
3399 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY

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The focus of my research is the strategic behavior of advocacy groups during the problem definition and agenda-setting phases of the policy process. I am interested in the use of framing techniques to shift problem definitions, link policy solutions to issues, and confront policy opponents. Utilizing narrative policy analysis, I explore these questions in the environmental and energy policy realms. My current research examines the impact of historical analogies on public opinion towards nuclear power.

Boscarino, Jessica E. 2015. "Setting the Record Straight: Frame Contestation as an Advocacy Tactic" Policy Studies Journal (published online August 2015).
Abstract: Policy scholars recognize that most policy arenas are characterized by competition among interests advancing different problem frames with conflicting problem definitions and/or solutions. At the same time, there is little research that empirically analyzes the dynamics of such framing contests. Using a case study of energy policy advocacy by the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense Fund across three decades, I examine the tactics that interest groups employ when faced with agenda conflict. Contrary to what most policy research suggests, I find that interest groups do not avoid public clashes with their competitors; rather, they often willingly engage in confrontational framing techniques. I call this activity frame contestation, and it involves attempts at discrediting opponents’ factual claims, policy ideas, and/or group character. The study reveals interesting differences between groups in the specific types of frame contestation employed. In particular, the use of character frames that attack an opponents’ reputation appears to be linked to group ideology and orientation toward the business community. These findings enhance our understanding of advocacy group decision making and focus our attention on the role of frame contestation in agenda setting and policymaking outcomes.
DOI: 10.1111/psj.12121
Boscarino, Jessica E. 2015 "Paving the Way or Crowding Out? The Impact of the Rise of Climate Change on Environmental Issue Agendas." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 5 (2): 99-110.
Abstract: Climate change has emerged as a salient issue within the USA. In response, many environmental organizations have pushed climate change to the top of their agendas. As a consequence, critics have charged that environmentalists have decreased attention to—or abandoned altogether—traditional issues such as biodiversity. This research provides empirical data to evaluate such claims. I assess the degree to which climate change has come to dominate US environmental group agendas, using data from organizational websites, financial statements, and interviews. I find that climate change has moved to the top of group agendas, emerging as a key priority and commanding a significant percentage of organizational funding. However, rather than being associated with the neglect of other issues, analysis shows that groups tend to work on a greater number of issues after they prioritize climate change. Moreover, the nature of environmental campaigns has evolved as attention to climate change has increased.
Boscarino, Jessica E. 2009. "Surfing for Problems: Advocacy Group Strategy in U.S. Forestry Policy, 1970- 1995." Policy Studies Journal 39 (3): 415-434.
Pralle, Sarah, and Jessica Boscarino. 2011. "Framing Trade-offs: The Politics of Nuclear Power and Wind Energy in the Age of Global Climate Change." Review of Policy Research 28 (4): 323-346.

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy SECONDARY
Environmental Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory SECONDARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY