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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Mark A. Smith
POL S 553
Seattle Campus

Public Opinion

Selected problems in opinion formation, characteristics, and role of public opinion in policy-making process.

Class description

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

Recommended preparation

Texts: A collection of articles and book chapters.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments: Two synthetic review essays.

Grading: Papers: 90%, Class/quiz participation: 10%.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Suman C. Chhabra
Date: 02/24/2005