Active Inclusion in a Multi-Level and Multi-Actor Context
Edited by Rune Halvorsen and Bjørn Hvinden
Chapter 2: Who is poor? Linking perceptions of poor people and political responses to poverty
An important strand of theory has argued that the ways in which representatives of governments perceive or ‘construct’ the target groups for public policy influence the policy agenda, the rationale that legitimates policy choices and the selection of policy instruments (Schneider and Ingram, 1993; Schneider and Sidney, 2009; Pierce et al., 2014). This kind of influence was illustrated in Chapter 1. To the extent that those in power in former times classified people as morally disreputable (undeserving poor), they met a harsher treatment than people perceived as innocent victims of circumstance (‘deserving poor’). In their original presentation of the theory, Schneider and Ingram (1993) distinguish between four ideal-type constructions of target populations, depending on whether policy-makers saw them primarily in positive or negative terms and whether policy-makers defined them as relatively strong or weak in terms of political resources.
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