Political Disagreement: The Survival of Diverse Opinions within Communication Networks / Edition 1

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Not only is political disagreement widespread within the communication networks of ordinary citizens, but political diversity within these networks is entirely consistent with a theory of democratic politics built on the importance of individual interdependence. Contrary to commonly held theoretical expectations, the persistence of political diversity and disagreement does not imply that political interdependence is absent among citizens or that political influence is lacking. This book's analysis makes a number of contributions. The authors demonstrate the ubiquitous nature of political disagreement, even within the networks and contexts that comprise the micro-environments of democratic citizens. They show that communication and influence within dyads is autoregressive - that the consequences of dyadic interactions depend on the distribution of opinions within larger networks of communication. They argue that the autoregressive nature of political influence serves to sustain disagreement within patterns of social interaction, as it restores the broader political relevance of social communication and influence.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book provides an interesting and informative account of Huckfeldt, Johnson, and Sprague's reserach on disagreement about U.S. presidential candidates. It is worth reading for the computer simulations results (and information on how to download the program!) alone. The book is an excellent example of how empirical, theoretical, and simluation approaches can work together to inform science." PsycCritiques

"...a most welcome addition to our collective knowledge that is guaranteed to stimulate further discussion and disagreement in future years." - Public Opinion Quarterly, Lilach Nir, The Hebrew University

“This new study by Robert Huckfeldt, Paul Johnson and John Sprague addresses an important problem and does so with such innovative and well-executed theory and data that I have no doubt whatsoever that the book deserves such recognition; indeed, it is a must-read for all social scientists interested in how democracies can be sustained.” – Perspective on Politics, James L. Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Robert Huckfeldt is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Davis. His interests lie in the areas of elections, public opinion, political communication, urban politics, and more generally in the relationships among groups and individuals in politics. He is the author of Dynamic Modeling (with Thomas Likens and Carol Weitzel Kohfeld; Politics in Context; Race and the Decline of Class in American Politics (with Carol Weitzel Kohfeld); and Citizens, Politics, and Social Communication (with John Sprague). He has contributed articles to the American Political Science Review, The American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the American Journal of Political Science, and to other journals as well.

Paul Johnson has published articles in the American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Theoretical Politics, Rationality and Society, The American Behavioral Scientist, and other journals. His articles include applications of game theory, social choice theory, and complexity theory. He currently has an avid interest in the development of tools for agent based modeling and computer simulation in the social sciences. He is the lead author of the Swarm User Guide, the manual that is distributed with the Swarm Simulation System. He is contributing to the development of Swarm and offers the Swarm FAQ as well as pre-packaged versions of Swarm for Linux users as well as several example programs.

Professor Sprague has written on voting and elections, the history of socialist voting, voting patterns in the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers in politics, and crime including homicide. His academic career has been wholly at Washington University in St. Louis and he has been chair of the Department of Political Science there. He is the author of Voting Patterns on the U.S. Supreme Court; Lawyers in Politics (with Heinz Eulau); The Dynamics of Riots (with Barbara Salert); Systems Analysis for Social Scientists (with Fernando Cortez and Adam Prseworski); Paper Stones (with Adam Przeworski); and Citizens, Politics, and Social Communication (with Robert Huckfeldt). He has contributed articles to the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, the American Journal of Political Science, Political Methodology, Criminology, and other journals.

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Table of Contents

1 Communication, influence, and the capacity of citizens to disagree 1
2 New information, old information, and persistent disagreement 25
3 Dyads, networks, and autoregressive influence 46
4 Disagreement, heterogeneity, and the effectiveness of political communication 68
5 Disagreement, heterogeneity, and persuasion : how does disagreement survive? 98
6 Agent-based explanations, patterns of communication, and the inevitability of homogeneity 124
7 Agent-based explanations, autoregressive influence, and the survival of disagreement 151
8 Heterogeneous networks and citizen capacity : disagreement, ambivalence, and engagement 180
9 Summary, implications, and conclusion 207
App. A The Indianapolis - St. Louis study 218
App. B The opinion simulation software 222
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