One challenge for researchers has been to explain or predict the unfolding of ideas, events, and actions that lead to policy decisions. Both of the approaches presented in this chapter, punctuated-equilibrium theory and the advocacy coalition framework, are well suited to studying how these processes evolve over considerable amounts of time. Punctuated equilibrium is a term referring to the tendency of policymaking to be generally incremental over long periods of time-punctuated with short periods of time where major policy change takes place (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993). This type of policy change often takes decades to track, as ideas move in and out of the government’s policy agenda in our federalist system. In contrast, the advocacy coalition approach draws more attention to the efforts of numerous, competing groups to influence the policy development process over time by working within a particular policy domain or subsystem. Although both approaches focus on the movement of ideas and values over time, they differ most in terms of the relative importance of the general public versus policy elites-more specifically, punctuated-equilibrium focuses on the potential of the audience to become involved in policy conflicts.