POLS107 SYLLABUS - SPRING 2010

POLS107 SYLLABUS- - San Jos State University Spring 2010 San Jos State University Department of Political Science POLS107 Politics Public Opinion

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San José State University – Spring 2010 1 San José State University Department of Political Science POLS107, Politics & Public Opinion, Section 1 Spring 2010 Instructor: Dr. Melinda Jackson Office Location: Clark Hall 402C Telephone: 408-924-5293 Email: [email protected] (preferred method of contact) Office Hours: MW 11am-12pm, 2-3pm, and By Appointment Class Days/Time: MW 12:00-1:15pm Classroom: DMH161 Course description: In this course we will explore American public opinion from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Students will learn about how public opinion surveys are designed and conducted, and the ways in which political scientists, politicians, and the media use this information. We will consider how socialization, psychological processes, and ideology shape individual attitudes, as well as examining group-based differences in opinion, and trends in Americans’ political opinions over time. We will also critically examine the role of the media in collecting, reporting, and possibly shaping public opinion. Finally, we will consider the role public opinion plays in a democratic system, including the ways that politicians use information about public opinion, and whether or not citizens’ opinions have a significant effect on public policy at the end of the day.
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San José State University – Spring 2010 2 Student Learning Objectives: To gain familiarity with the history and current practice of public opinion polling. Students will learn about the techniques of scientific opinion polling through course readings and a hands-on survey project. To develop a clear understanding of liberal and conservative political ideologies, and the extent to which ideology helps to explain citizens’ attitudes on specific political issues. To gain an understanding of the distribution of American public opinion on a range of policy issues including social welfare, civil rights, foreign policy, and social issues, and to analyze trends and changes in these opinions over time. To develop a critical understanding of the various influences on public opinion, including political socialization and learning, media effects, and strategic political appeals. To critically reflect on the “proper” role that public opinion should play in a democratic society, and to evaluate several different theoretical models of the linkages between citizens and their elected representatives and leaders. Required Texts: Public Opinion: Measuring the American Mind, 3 rd Edition. (2007) By Barbara Bardes & Robert Oldendick Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, 2 nd Edition (2006) By Morris P. Fiorina with Samuel J. Abrams & Jeremy C. Pope Available for purchase in the Spartan Bookstore. Additional readings will be available on reserve on the course website.
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POLS107 SYLLABUS- - San Jos State University Spring 2010 San Jos State University Department of Political Science POLS107 Politics Public Opinion

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