Political Science | American Politics: Public Opinion
Y661 | 20083 | Carmines


This course will survey the large and steadily increasing research
on public opinion from a social psychological perspective. This
research is part of the latest installment in the ongoing dialogue
between political science and social psychology. We will examine the
psychological processes by which citizens form and change their
political views, the influence of various environmental factors on
public opinion including social interaction, political campaigns and
mass media, and the translation of public opinion into political
action with special attention given to voters and elections.

It has long been alleged, as Donald Kinder states, that Americans
are “too ignorant, too intolerant, and too unsophisticated to
participate wisely or even sensibly in the affairs of politics.” We
shall examine this allegation closely and comprehensively with the
aim of determining whether the opinions of the public are more a
threat or a source of strength to the promise and practice of
American democratic life.