Gary Mucciaroni

Temple University
Political Science

Department of Political Science, Gladfelter Hall, Temple University
1115 Pollett Walk
Philadelphia, PA

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My research focuses on the politics of public policymaking, with a particular focus on debate and deliberation, issue framing, and the role of institutions in shaping policy. My substantive policy fields are morality policy (especially abortion and gay and lesbian rights), labor rights and the regulation of industrial relations, and social welfare and economic policies generally.

Mucciaroni, Gary. 2011. “Are Debates about ‘Morality Policy’ Really about Morality? Framing Opposition to Gay and Lesbian Rights.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (2): 187-216.
Abstract: A growing number of studies identify morality policy as a distinct category of public policy and have tested several related hypotheses. This article reexamines morality policy as a conceptual category and an empirical phenomenon. As others have pointed out, we should distinguish morality policy from other policies by how political actors frame issues rather than by its substantive content. In the first part of the article, I argue that we should view morality policy as one of two broad strategies for framing issues, rather than try to fit it into existing policy typologies. Next, I move beyond viewing morality policy as a single, broad category by identifying several distinct subtypes of morality frames. In the second part of the article, I challenge a basic assumption of the morality policy paradigm that advocates frame morality policy issues by engaging in moralistic discourse that reflects their basic beliefs and values. Gay rights issues are a strong test of this claim because the literature cites them as typical examples of morality policy, and gay rights opponents would seem especially likely to engage in morality talk in framing these issues. Very few studies of morality policy actually observe framing behavior and what it reveals about the political strategy of each side. Congressional and state-level data reveal that opponents usually do not frame gay rights issues in terms of the morality of homosexuality or religious injunctions against it, even in most states where we would expect to find it. Instead, they emphasize frames that focus on alleged negative social consequences from gay rights and procedural arguments about who should make policy and how it should be made. Although many opponents of gay rights disapprove of homosexuality on moral and religious grounds, their framing behavior reflects more complex strategic considerations. I speculate that opponents deemphasize morality talk because it is politically disadvantageous compared with other kinds of frames, and because of greater acceptance of gays in society. In reducing gay rights debates to moral and religious judgments, the morality policy perspective obscures the complexity of advocates' framing strategies and ignores many of their most important arguments.

Substantive Focus:
Social Policy PRIMARY
Comparative Public Policy SECONDARY

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