poli201_lec9(public opinion)

poli201_lec9(public opinion) - POLI 201 / Chapter 9...

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POLI 201 / Chapter 9 Professor Finocchiaro 1 CHAPTER 9 Public Opinion POLI 201: American National Government America’s Tyrannical Majority Observing America in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville warned of the potential for the “tyranny of the majority.” “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America … In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.” --Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America Tocqueville even argued that, in America, the power of the majority was greater than that of a King: “The authority of a king is physical and controls the actions of men without subduing their will. But the majority possesses a power that is physical and moral at the same time, which acts upon the will as much as upon the actions and represses not only all contest, but all controversy.”
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POLI 201 / Chapter 9 Professor Finocchiaro 2 In a democratic-republic like the United States, where the ultimate authority for all government actions is “the people,” the will of the majority structures debate and itself guides public opinion. In the United States, it may truly be said that public opinion is King. Characteristics of Public Opinion Characteristics Definition 1. Direction 2. Intensity 3. Saliency 4. Latency Public opinion is “the values and attitudes that people have about issues, events, and personalities.” Public opinion has direction . Whatever the response to a public Whatever the response to a public opinion poll – “yes” or “no;” “more” or “less;” “1” or “100” – people have opinions about proper directions and preferred alternatives.
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This note was uploaded on 02/14/2011 for the course POLI 201 taught by Professor Briggs during the Fall '08 term at South Carolina.

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poli201_lec9(public opinion) - POLI 201 / Chapter 9...

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