Reading Public Opinion: How Political Actors View the Democratic Process / Edition 1

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Overview


Public opinion is one of the most elusive and complex concepts in democratic theory, and we do not fully understand its role in the political process. Reading Public Opinion offers one provocative approach for understanding how public opinion fits into the empirical world of politics. In fact, Susan Herbst finds that public opinion, surprisingly, has little to do with the mass public in many instances.

Herbst draws on ideas from political science, sociology, and psychology to explore how three sets of political participants—legislative staffers, political activists, and journalists—actually evaluate and assess public opinion. She concludes that many political actors reject "the voice of the people" as uninformed and nebulous, relying instead on interest groups and the media for representations of public opinion. Her important and original book forces us to rethink our assumptions about the meaning and place of public opinion in the realm of contemporary democratic politics.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Herbst (political science and communications, Northwestern U.) draws on ideas from political science, sociology, and psychology to explore how legislative staffers, political activists, and journalists evaluate and assess public opinion. She concludes that many political actors rely on interest groups and the media for representations of public opinion. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author


Susan Herbst is president of the University of Connecticut. She previously served as executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University System of Georgia, as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at SUNY-Albany, as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, and as a professor of political science and communication studies and chair of the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Introduction
1: The "Construction" of Public Opinion: Looking to Lay Theory
2: Policy Experts Think about Public Opinion, Media, and Legislative Process
3: Journalistic Views of Public Opinion
4: Conceptions of Public Opinion and Representation among Partisan Activists
5: Meanings of Public Opinion: Lay Theory Meets Democratic Theory
App. A: Notes on Interviews and Building Grounded Theory
App. B: Interview Protocols
App. C: Survey Form
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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