Chapter%206

Chapter%206 - POL 413 assignment: Complete the exercises in...

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POL 413 assignment: Complete the exercises in this chapter. Type up your answers to Exercise 6.1, Exercise 6.2, Exercise 6.3, and Exercise 6.4. See "Sample Workbook Assignment" on Blackboard to see how you should format your answers. Be prepared to discuss in class on Friday, October 29th. (Group work is not allowed. Each student should do his or her own work. If students have any questions, please contact Prof. Clawson.) 6 6 P LURALISTIC R OOTS OF P UBLIC O PINION Citizens have a variety of opinions on a range of issues. For example, some citizens support government spending on welfare programs while others oppose it. Some citizens favor gay marriage while others are against it. Why is this? What factors encourage some citizens to support particular policies while others oppose them? What are the roots of citizens’ policy attitudes? In chapter 5 we discussed the influence of ideology on political attitudes, but public opinion scholars have identified several other factors that shape the attitudes of citizens, including personality, values, historical events, self-interest, and group attitudes. All of these factors are important, but in this chapter we will concentrate on the effects of self-interest and group attitudes on citizens’ policy opinions. 1
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Self-Interest Does self-interest shape citizens' political attitudes? It seems intuitive that self-interest would be a strong factor driving citizens’ attitudes, yet in many issue areas it is difficult for citizens to ascertain what policy outcomes would best serve their interests. This occurs for many reasons, including that citizens may not be knowledgeable enough to sort out which policies would further their interests or that politicians may purposely try to obscure who might benefit from and who might be harmed by particular policies. Nevertheless, there are instances when self-interest does shape the attitudes of citizens. Several studies show that self-interest plays a role when the effects of a policy are visible, tangible, large, and certain. Smokers, for example, are much more likely to oppose taxes on tobacco and restrictions on public smoking than nonsmokers. 1 In the analysis below, we will examine whether there is a link between the self-interest of citizens and their attitudes toward social welfare policies. Scholars have debated how to conceptualize self-interest, but here we will define a policy as being in someone’s self-interest if it provides tangible, economic benefits for the person or his or her family. If self-interest drives public attitudes, then lower-income citizens should be more supportive of welfare policies than higher-income citizens. Welfare programs for the poor, such as food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, provide government assistance to at least some lower-income citizens. Middle- or higher-income citizens are not eligible for these programs and thus would not receive direct economic benefits from them. To examine whether self-interest influences welfare attitudes, we will analyze survey
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Chapter%206 - POL 413 assignment: Complete the exercises in...

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