This course explores the structure and dynamics of American public opinion, providing a broad-based introduction to the forces that shape citizens' social and political attitudes in the contemporary United States. We will focus our analysis in three major areas: definitions of public opinion and theories of opinion formation; how public opinion is measured, how it is influenced, and how it, in turn, influences governmental policy; and public opinion in specific issue areas of contemporary American politics. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to help each member of the class arrive at a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the forces that shape American beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, the ways that those views are expressed in the public sphere, and the process by which the public will is discerned and translated into legislative outcomes.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
Bardes, Barbara, and Robert Oldendick, Public Opinion: Measuring the American Mind, 5th edition. Rowan and Littlefield. ISBN: 13-978-144266-1884.
Zaller, John. Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-052140-7861.
Other articles posted on Canvas as needed.
Discussions (x14): 140
Homework (x3): 60
Reflective Writing Assignment (x2): 100
Midterm Exam: 100
Final Exam: 100