I'm a cultural anthropologist. In particular I study the cognitive and cultural models that people use to think about various public policy issues.
Two years ago, one of the largest non-profit foundations in the country gave our small outfit the task of re-making the public discourse in ways that could promote a broad array of policy initiatives to make things better for working families.
We sifted through and tested all the various frames and ways of talking about the issues of low wage work and the working poor. And we found and reassembled and streamlined and jettisoned and edited the things that advocates have to say about the topic, and refined it into a story that resonates with the widest possible audience.
It is a story that makes improving the lives of working people seem like the most obvious common sense, and it is summarized in the video below.
In the intervening months, as this story in its many variations has percolated more consistently through the culture, I have seen people reaching out and picking up on this narrative not as something new and shocking, but as though it were just simple, obvious common sense.
And that is a kind of change that matters.