Mark A. Smith
POL S 553
Selected problems in opinion formation, characteristics, and role of public opinion in policy-making process.
Description: This course will be concerned with public opinion not only for its own sake but also for its place in the larger political system. Political elites care about public opinion because of usefulness as a tool in political struggles and because of its impacts (at least some of the time) on who gets elected and which policies get enacted into law. For most of the course, we will consider how public opinion forms. We will consider such factors as elite attempts to shape public opinion, the prevalence of ideological thinking in the mass public, and the use of heuristics to simplify the process of arriving at opinions. At the end of the course, we will examine the varied effects of public opinion on public policy.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Texts: A collection of articles and book chapters.
Class assignments and grading
Assignments: Two synthetic review essays.
Grading: Papers: 90%, Class/quiz participation: 10%.