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date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Meaning-making is the core of all cultural mechanisms influencing policy development. Culture includes ideas; ideologies; values; concepts and theories; categories; beliefs; attitudes; opinions; norms; cognitive schema and paradigms; frames; discourse; spoken, written, or signed language; and any material object to which meaning is attached. Each shapes policies through meaning-making. This chapter explores how diverse aspects of culture play cognitive, normative-evaluative, and strategic roles in U.S. social policy development. It reviews exemplary research exploring the relationship between various cultural forces and that development, offering methodological and theoretical suggestions for future research. Cultural factors alone are unlikely to provide a sufficient explanation for any aspect of U.S. social policy development. However, understanding how they operate in the background and foreground of social policy debates is essential, because fully explaining the nature, timing, causes, and consequences of any particular American social policy development will require elucidating multiple aspects of—and roles played by—culture.

Keywords: culture, ideas, frames, meaning-making, cognitive, normative, strategic

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