Scholars have devoted considerable attention to analyzing the social construction of AIDS. To explore the politics of AIDS policymaking, this research uses Schneider and Ingram’s (1993) theory of the social construction of target populations to evaluate the U.S. Senate’s response to AIDS between 1987 and 1992. Our study found that Schneider and Ingram’s model provides important insights into how political processes affect AIDS policy design. While our data did not strictly conform to all of the model’s theoretical expectations, the data provided evidence confirming its predictions about broad patterns in the allocation of both substantive and symbolic policy benefits and burdens to different target populations.

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