"People who care about policy should also be concerned with culture because it shapes how policy elites make decisions affecting the poor. Among policy elites we include the scholars, journalists, and pundits who discuss poverty policy; the activists, advocates, scholars, and practitioners who purport to speak on behalf of
the poor; and the lawmakers, employers, and nonprofit leaders who, one way or another, make policy decisions that affect the conditions of the poor. The public discourse on poverty, and the policies resulting from that discourse, are themselves
cultural products, subject to the whims, predilections, prejudices, beliefs, attitudes, and orientations of policy elites. Both the discourse and the policy reflect deeply held (if often inconsistent) assumptions about the goals of policy and especially about work, responsibility, service, agency, “deservingness,” and
the structure of opportunity. These circumstances are particularly important in the realm of lawmaking and public policy."
Reconsidering Culture and Poverty.
By MARIO LUIS SMALL, DAVID J. HARDING,and MICHÈLE LAMONT.
[ANNALS, AAPSS, 629, May 2010]