Schneider and Ingram introduced the pivotal theory of social construction of target populations in the American Political Science Review nearly 25 years ago. There, they developed four ideal type groups: advantaged, contenders, dependents, and deviants. They noted that there may be contention around the construction of the groups but implied an expectation of consensus. There has not been, however, a systematic categorization of politically salient target groups based on these categories, nor has there been an empirical assessment of whether or the extent to which consensus around the social constructions of salient target groups exists. We revisit this theory to offer a novel perspective and do so by leveraging advances in technology and methodological strategies. By crowdsourcing the task of evaluating the social construction of various target populations, we are able to assess underlying assumptions of theory as well as outline avenues for future research on policy design.
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