Poli Test 2 - Public Opinion I. II. Definition: The...

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Public Opinion I. Definition: The collected attitudes of citizens on a given issue or question. II. Why is it important to understand public opinion? Why does it matter? a. Because in a democracy, there must be some link between what the public thinks, and what the government does. The nature of that link can vary greatly. b. Should the public just periodically elect representatives, or should they actively engage in the policy-making process? c. It’s the delegate vs. trustee distinction we made earlier. d. There is also the question of whether the public is capable of governing. Surveys show that people are not very interested in politics, are ignorant of much that goes on politically. To compensate, they rely heavily on cues and shortcuts than informed issue positions. They usually do a good job voting by using these cues and shortcuts. e. Another way to answer this question is to consider who is most interested in Public Opinion. i. Elected Officials – Public Opinion may influence government decision-making through policymaking system. ii. Academics – Seek to understand why people behave the way they do. iii. The People – May be motivated to become active in politics. III. Where does it come from? a. Political Socialization: A complex process through which individuals become aware of politics, learn political facts, and form political values. b. Important to remember that socialization occurs throughout our lives. i. Generational effects – specific age group uniquely affected by set of historical events (Vietnam, Great Depression).
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Life cycle effects – political views are influenced by maturation. iii. Period effects – historical events affect everyone (end of cold war caused everyone to want to spend less on defense). Ex: 9/11 c. The standard model of socialization looks at what are called Agents of Socialization. d. What are these Agents or influences? i. Family – parents have strong influence on children. ii. School- learned to be patriotic. iii. Community and Peers – social contacts. iv. Mass Media v. Interest Groups vi. Others e. Perhaps we are born this way - the nature part of Nature vs. Nurture. IV. How do we know what it is? a. Early days - we had to guess. b. Modern day - we do polls. i. How do they work? How can we tell what millions of people think by polling only a few? c. The statistical theory of sampling - a sample of individuals selected by chance from any population. i. What does that mean? d. Are all polls accurate? What determines the accuracy of a poll? i. The way the sample is selected ii. The size of the sample iii. The way the survey is put together 1. Question wording a. Is it a leading question? b. Is there social desirability? c. Is the question clear?
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Poli Test 2 - Public Opinion I. II. Definition: The...

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