PSCI 211 Public Opinion and Political Behavior (Q)

Last offered Spring 2014

The focus of this course is the role of public opinion in democratic regimes. The influence of public opinion on public affairs and popular governments is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of governments (largely subsequent to the American and French revolutions). We can see from recent events the impact of public opinion: In the early 1990s the American public quickly became interested in drought and starvation in Somalia pressing the American government to intervene, if briefly and unsuccessfully. Some have claimed that American journalists successfully provoked the American public to go to war (the Spanish-American War, creating the slogan, "Remember the Maine"), and to withdraw from war (Viet Nam). More recently, public support to commence the Iraq war was generated in the United States while at the same time democratic publics in other nations strongly opposed the war. We see political leaders make use of the" bully pulpit" to rally support for their agendas, efforts that sometimes succeed and other times fail. We shall explore public opinion in American politics. There are many interesting questions awaiting us this semester. How do events and crises influence public opinion? Which psychological, sociological, and political factors impact public opinion formation? When and under what circumstances do pressure groups influence public opinion? Do mass beliefs alter individual voters' choices? When and how do political leaders influence public opinion and when does public opinion influence political leaders? We will have direct access to the holdings of the Roper Center, using iPOLL, which enables direct exploration of the thousands of polls on American public opinion from 1937 to today.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: 8- to 12-page research paper, a midterm and final examination
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Prerequisites: none
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Divisional Attributes: Division II,Quantitative and Formal Reasoning
Other Attributes: PSCI American Politics Courses,PSCI Research Courses
Enrollment Limit: 14
Expected Enrollment: 14
Class Number: 3411
PSCI 211 LEC Public Opinion&Polit Behavior (Q) Division 2: Social StudiesQuantitative and Formal Reasoning George E. Marcus
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