“We are pimping off the people”: Designing Oklahoma lottery legislation

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Kristopher Copeland


While research studies have focused on lottery policy, little attention has been paid to how legislators discuss citizens in the design of lottery policy. In this qualitative case study, interviews with 11 former state senators examined how decision makers socially constructed Oklahoma citizens while forming lottery policy. Ingram and Schneider’s (1993) social construction of target populations provides a theoretical framework for better understanding how social constructions become embedded into political discourse. Furthermore, the subfield of political communication has focused on comprehending the connection between rhetoric and politics (Gronbeck 2004). Participants discussed how the policy designated education as the advantaged, lottery players as dependents, and gambling addicts as deviants. Additionally, there was an interactive effect between the social construction of target populations in policy design and the political rhetoric used within the political discourse to discuss the policy with the public. The findings suggest that the policy process may shape political rhetoric.

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