Anne L. Schneider

Arizona State University
Department of Political Science

2210 E. Siesta Drive
Phoenix, AZ
85042
anne.schneider@asu.edu

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I am now retired and even though my academic work continues at a slow pace, I spend far more time now tracking legislation in Arizona and working as an advocate for socially just public policy. Contact me directly if you would like to see the "Arizona Legislative Alert" newsletter that I publish. My academic work still focuses on policy design: how and why we get the kinds of policy designs that we currently observe, and what the consequences of these kinds of policies are for citizen participation, democracy, and the quality of life that we experience. By policy design, I am referring to the substantive content of policy: the problem definitions, goals, benefits/burdens, target populations, rationales, social constructions, tools, rules, and the other empirical elements of policy. My colleague, Helen Ingram, and I continue to develop and use a theory of policy design that emphasizes the central role played by social constructions in understanding both the causes and consequences of policy. One central thesis is that policy making sometimes occurs (perhaps often) in conditions that are best described as "degenerative democracy" in which "winning" against ones "enemies" and inflicting a death blow to them and to their ideas is more important than solving collective problems and serving a collective and public interest. Whether this condition exists in the legislative halls of the nation's capital or in a university department, the result is public policy that serves only narrow strategic ends.

Citation:
Schneider, Anne L. ,Helen Ingram, and Peter DeLeon (2014). Democratic Policy Design: Social Construction of Target Populations. In Sabatier, Paul and Chris weible, (Ed) 2014). Theories of the Policy Process. Boulder: Westview Press.
Abstract: Abstract:This chapter summarizes our social construction theory of policy design and reviews empirical and theoretical studies that have used our framework across a multitude of policy arenas. The framework begins with the idea that benefits and burdens are allocated to target populations (that are, themselves, created by the policy) in accord with both their political power as well as their positive or negative social construction. This idea has been found useful in understanding health policy, economic policy, immigration, women's rights, housing, race/ethnic studies, and essentially all policy areas where it has been used. We also examine the idea that policies have feed-forward effects (or feedback effects, we define these the same way) through both material and symbolic / interpretive consequences. This proposition also has been confirmed multiple times by many scholars. The source or origination of social constructions is an important and understudied aspect of the theory. We propose that these emerge from emotional and intuitive reactions and then are justified with selective attention to evidence. This area of research links our work with social psychologists such as Kahneman, Tversky, Slovik, and more recently Jonathan Haidt. The framework can also be used to analyze how social constructions change and how policy design changes as a cause or consequence of change in social constructions, but rather than propose one overall theory of change, we suggest that the type of change itself depends on the social construction and power of the target population.
Citation:
Schneider, Anne (2012). Punishment in the American States 1890 to 2008: Convergence, Divergence, Synchronous Change and Feedforward Effects, Policy Studies Journal, 40(2), pages 193-210, May, 2012.
Abstract: This analysis of the patterns of change in the use of incarceration by the American states from 1980 through 2008 focuses on multiple themes relevant to an understanding of change in policy areas in which the social constructions of target populations plan an important role. The findings are that in spite of a century of social, political, and economic integration, the policy positions of hte states habenot exhibited a sustained convergence toward a common level of incarceration, but have undergone cycles with some periods of convergence followed by periods of divergence. Change has generally been synchronous, as states tend to move in the same direction at the same time as if propelled by national forces even though incarceration levels are determined mainly by state and local policy and the use of discretion at the state and local levels. The results illustrate a profound "feedforward" effect in that the position of the states vis a vis one another historically has substantial predictive power for their position as long as 50 years later.

Substantive Focus:
Law and Policy
Governance SECONDARY
Social Policy PRIMARY
Comparative Public Policy

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

Keywords

SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION POLICY DESIGN POLICY CHANGE INTERPRETIVE APPROACH NARRATIVE APPROACH TARGET POPULATIONS