Chapter 6 Public Opinion and Political SocializationOutline

Chapter 6 Public Opinion and Political SocializationOutline...

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Chapter 6 Public Opinion and Political Socialization: Shaping the People's Voice I The Nature of Public Opinion Public opinion can influence public policy, as revealed by the example of the unfolding of the Bosnian intervention . 1. Public opinion has an important place in democratic societies because of the idea that democratic government springs from the will of the people. 2. Public opinion is seldom fixed when it comes to questions about how to resolve policy problems, giving political leaders some leeway in deciding a course of action. 3. The public may hold political leaders accountable for results of policy, but the action itself is often left to the political leaders to choose. The concept of public opinion refers to those opinions held by ordinary citizens that they are willing to express openly. 4. Most citizens possess a relatively low level of political information, which restricts the role it can play in policy disputes. 5. Public opinion can direct government toward certain goals, but it rarely provides a detailed guide to the way these goals are to be accomplished. 6. Public opinion is measured through polling, based on interviews with a sample of the population chosen at random to replicate the views of the larger population they represent. The accuracy of a poll is expressed in terms of sampling error. 7. Both probability and nonprobability samples are used in opinion polling. Probability samples are generally more accurate, though any poll can contain erors and be misleading if poorly conducted. II. Political Socialization: How Americans Learn Their Politics The learning process by which people acquire their opinions, beliefs, and values is called political socialization. Socialization is a lifelong process. 1. The primacy principle refers to the fact that what is learned first is often lodged most firmly in one's mind. 2. The structuring principle refers to the tendency of earlier learning to structure later learning. 3. Dramatic political transformation, when it occurs, is based on the age- cohort tendency which holds that a significant break in the pattern of political socialization is almost always concentrated among younger citizens. The most important agents of political socialization are: 4. The family--most children tend to accept uncritically the political attitudes of their parents. American values such as equality, individualism and
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personal freedom have their roots in patterns of family interaction. Family influences can be disrupted by a critical historical event. 5. Primary and secondary schools--they reinforce general values and instill positive attitudes about American history and politics. 6. Peers--including friends, neighbors and co-workers, who generally reinforce existing beliefs. 7.
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This note was uploaded on 07/13/2009 for the course PS PS-234 taught by Professor Prof during the Spring '09 term at Chadron State College.

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Chapter 6 Public Opinion and Political SocializationOutline...

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