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Public Opinion
Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice

Third Edition


April 2016 | 480 pages | CQ Press
In this revision of their lauded Public Opinion: Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice, Rosalee A. Clawson and Zoe M. Oxley continue to link the enduring normative questions of democratic theory to the best empirical research on public opinion. Exploring the tension between ideals and their practice, each chapter focuses on exemplary studies so that students gain a richer understanding of key findings and the research process as well as see methods applied in context.  

 
Part I: What Should the Role of Citizens Be in a Democratic Society?
 
Chapter 1: Public Opinion in a Democracy
Theories of Democracy  
What Is Public Opinion?  
Defining Key Concepts  
Empirical Assessments of Public Opinion  
Themes of the Book  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Appendix: Studying Public Opinion Empirically
Public Opinion Surveys  
Experiments  
Interviews  
Focus Groups  
Content Analysis  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Part II: Are Citizens Pliable?
 
Chapter 2: Political Socialization
Childhood Socialization  
Parental Transmission of Political Attitudes  
Generational and Period Effects  
Genetic Inheritance of Political Attitudes  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 3: Mass Media
What Should Citizens Expect from the Mass Media in a Democracy?  
What General Characteristics of the Mass Media Shape News Coverage?  
What Specific Characteristics of the Traditional News Media Shape the Reporting of Political Events?  
Are Citizens Affected by the Mass Media?  
Media Effects in a Changing Technological Environment  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 4: Attitude Stability and Attitude Change
Are Americans' Attitudes Stable?  
Presidential Approval  
Psychological Approaches to Attitudes  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Part III: Do Citizens Organize Their Political Thinking?
 
Chapter 5: Ideology, Partisanship, and Polarization
Converse's Claim: Ideological Innocence  
Ideological Identification  
Party Identification  
Polarization  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 6: Pluralistic Roots of Public Opinion: Personality, Self-Interest, Values, and History
Personality  
Self-Interest  
Values  
Historical Events  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 7: Pluralistic Roots of Public Opinion: The Central Role of Groups
Race and Public Opinion  
Gender and Public Opinion  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Part IV: Do Citizens Endorse and Demonstrate Democratic Basics?
 
Chapter 8: Knowledge, Interest, and Attention to Politics
How Knowledgeable, Interested, and Attentive Should Citizens Be in a Democracy?  
Are Citizens Knowledgeable about Politics?  
Measuring Political Knowledge  
Why Are Some Citizens More Knowledgeable than Others?  
What Are the Consequences of Political Knowledge?  
Are Citizens Interested in and Attentive to Politics?  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 9: Support for Civil Liberties
Are Americans Tolerant?  
Sources of Tolerant Attitudes  
Contextual Influences on Tolerance Judgments  
Are Elites More Tolerant?  
Civil Liberties Post-9/11  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 10: Support for Civil Rights
Public Opinion and Presidential Candidates  
Support for Civil Rights Policies  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Part V: What Is the Relationship between Citizens and Their Government?
 
Chapter 11: Trust in Government, Support for Institutions, and Social Capital
Trust in Government  
Support for Institutions  
Social Capital  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Chapter 12: Impact of Public Opinion on Policy
Should Public Opinion Influence Policy?  
Is Public Opinion Related to Policy?  
Do Politicians Follow or Lead the Public?  
Public Opinion and Foreign Policy  
Conclusion  
Key Concepts  
Suggested Sources for Further Reading  
 
Part VI: What Do We Make of Public Opinion in a Democracy?
 
Chapter 13: Conclusion
What Should the Role of Citizens Be in a Democratic Society?  
Are Citizens Pliable?  
Do Citizens Organize Their Political Thinking?  
Do Citizens Endorse and Demonstrate Democratic Basics?  
What Is the Relationship between Citizens and Their Government?  
What Do We Make of Public Opinion in a Democracy?  

“Clawson and Oxley’s book is impressive: it offers broad coverage of the relevant areas of interest, but places public opinion in the context of the broader democracy…I especially appreciate the coverage of political trust.”

Professor Andrea M. Quenette
University of Kansas

“I like that Public Opinion: Democratic Ideas, Democratic Practice helps my students think more deeply about the processes by which citizens learn about politics, the motivations behind their beliefs, and the biases they bring to political thinking.  It facilitates a more sophisticated understanding of citizens as political actors.”

Professor Erin C. Cassese, PhD
West Virginia University

“Clawson and Oxley’s Public Opinion: Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice is smart, yet accessible to my students. I appreciate that its length and organization has allowed me to use it for both quarter and semester length courses”

Professor Gar Culbert, Ph.D.
California State University, Los Angeles
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION: 

  • New content on partisan polarization
  • New content on media effects in a changing technological environment
  • New content for Public Opinion in Comparative Perspective boxes illustrating how the U.S. differs from other world countries in terms of attitudes, beliefs, and values
  • Updated for current events including:
    • Socialization – expanded coverage of the Millennial Generation;
    • Trust – recent declines in trust and racial differences in trust;
    •  Civil Rights – same-sex marriage;
    • Civil liberties – post 9/11 civil liberties; and
    • Knowledge, Interest, and Attention – political bystanders
  • Polling data has been updated throughout the book on issues such as death penalty opinions, presidential approval, gender and race/ethnicity differences in party identification and issue opinions, foreign policy opinions, and attitudes on affirmative action and reparations
  • Every chapter (except for the introduction and conclusion) has new scholarship

KEY FEATURES: 

  •  Organized around a series of questions, the text explores the tension between ideals and their practice:
    •  In a democratic society, what should be the relationship between citizens and their government?
    • Are citizens’ opinions pliable?
    • Are citizens knowledgeable, attentive, and informed?
  • The most recent polling data fully incorporated in to discussion and to all of the tables and figures
  • New scholarship, especially in areas which have seen significant progress, such as the relationship between public opinion and public policy
  • Annotated lists of suggested sources for further study at the ends of each chapter help facilitate student researcH

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