“Fifty shades of deservingness: an analysis of state-level variation and effect of social constructions on policy outcomes,” Candis Watts Smith, Duke University
AMERICAN POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY WORKSHOP
Abstract: A patchwork of policies exists across the United States. While citizens’ policy preferences in domains such as the criminal legal system, gun regulations/rights, immigration, and welfare are informed by their political predispositions, they are also shaped by the extent to which policy targets are viewed as deserving. This article centers the idea that collective evaluations matter in policymaking, and it ascertains whether subnational levels of deservingness evaluations of several target groups differ across space to illuminate the link between these judgements and state policy design. We leverage original survey data and multilevel regression and poststratification to create state-level estimates of deservingness evaluations. The analyses elucidate the heterogeneity in state-level deservingness evaluations of several politically relevant groups, and they pinpoint a link between these social reputations and policy design. The article also delivers a useful methodological tool and measures for scholars of state policy design to employ in future research.
Candis Watts Smith is Associate Professor of Political Science at Duke University, where she also received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. Professor Smith’s expertise highlights the role race, racism, and structural inequality play in shaping the American political landscape. She is the author of Black Mosaic: The Politics of Black Pan-Ethnic Identity (NYU Press, 2014), and the co-author of Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making Black Lives Matter (NYU Press, 2019) as well as Racial Stasis: The Millennial Generation and the Stagnation of Racial Attitudes in American Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2020). She is the co-editor of Black Politics in Transition: Immigration, Suburbanization, and Gentrification (Routledge, 2019).
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