Dr. Peffley                                                                                                                               PS 271





I. Methodology:  Survey Research

        1. Random Sample. Soup kettle analogy.  Sampling bias, sampling error, other errors of polling ("loaded questions," context, etc.)


II. Political Socialization:

Useful Definitions:  Education is propaganda presented as fact.  School is a place where the mind is developed by rewarding orthodox imaginations. 

Political socialization refers to the learning process by which the political norms and behaviors acceptable to an ongoing political system are transmitted from generation to generation.

A. Functions:

   1. Teaches facts

   2. Teaches norms

   3. Teaches behaviors

   4. Maintains diffuse support for political system

B. Types:

   1. Affective vs. cognitive

   2. Implicit vs. explicit

C. Targets:

   1. Community

   2. Government (rules of the game)

   3. Incumbents

D. Findings:

   1. Community:

    a. cognitive: requires ability for abstract thought (generally 11-13 years old)

    b. affective: nationalism and patriotism (5-6 years)

   2. Government:

    a. cognitive: must be able to differentiate between president and presidency (11-13)

    b. affective: "Benevolent Leader Syndrome" (5-6)

   3. Incumbents:

    a. cognitive: must know who the incumbent president is and a bit about him (9-11, perhaps earlier)

    b. affective: "Benevolent Leader Syndrome"

     c. Exceptions to Benevolent Leader Syndrome

        4. Implications:

           a. Socialization can be viewed as the narrowing of options,of choices, many of which become defined as inappropriate for consideration.

    b. Exaggerated view of Presidency

E. Agents of socialization:  explicit or implicit?  affective or cognitive socialization?

   1. Family:  broad oreintations or specific issue preferences?

   2. Schools:  obedience and elementary school; success of high school civics courses


I.     Mass Political Sophistication

        A.    Requirements of democratic theories regarding sophistication of the mass public. Question is, are masses uninformed or inactive because they lack incentives or because they lack the capacity to do these things?

        B.     Survey evidence on mass sophistication, consistent with Revisionist Theory

                1.     Level of information on political system and public issues.

    2.     Level of opinion holding:  frequency of don't know, no opinion responses on issues;

4.       Stability of public opinion: stability of individual responses over time; problem of non-attitudes, and commitment to attitudes

5.       Lack ideology, ideological structure, consistency (constraint) across issues

6.       Implications for elite manipulation of public opinion

7.       Paradox: how demo survive if masses so unsophisticated? Revisionist answer?

        C.     Representative Theory’s Rejoinder

1.           Errors in measurement

2.           Rational ignorance (Anthony Downs): Must weigh information costs (time, effort, and opportunity costs) and benefits (moral virtue, ability to make rational political decisions, etc.) before it is “rational” to become informed. Must take into account “expected” benefits of voting, where discount benefits by probability that voting will affect the outcome of the election. 

            a.     Mass media coverage of issues, raises information costs

            b.     Politicians’ ambiguity and misinformation raises information costs

2.           Heuristic reasoning:  cognitive short-cuts reduce information and decision costs so that even modestly informed citizens can make reasonable, not optimal, decisions by relying on heuristics or information short-cuts.  Buying toilet paper and party voting. Examples of heuristics, including schema.

3.           Ideology: vertical versus horizontal constraint.

4.           Problems with Representative Theory’s arguments:

a.       Errors from relying on heuristics

b.       More information is better in at least two ways:

1)      More informed individuals able to realize their self-interest?

2)      Even if reasonable for individuals to be uninformed, collective cost of less accountability to an uninformed public.

D.     Who wins the debate? Question is, are masses uninformed or inactive because they lack incentives or because they lack the capacity to do these things?

1.       Revisionists?

2.       Representative thoerists?


II.      Political Tolerance: Are masses and elites politically tolerant? Are they willing to extend basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution to groups and interests they oppose?

        1.     Political tolerance defined

        2.     Level of mass support for general principles of democracy versus extending democratic freedoms to unpopular, or least-liked, groups.

        3.     Determinants of support for political tolerance of least-liked groups (personality, conservatism, perceived threat to other values, and so on.)

        4.     Which democratic theory fits the evidence on tolerance? 


III. Political Participation:

   A.  Types:

     Inactives 22%

     Voting Specialists 21%

     Parochial Participants 4%

     Communalists 20%

     Campaigners 15%

     Complete Activists 15%

     Unclassified 7%

   B.  Determinants of participation:


     Civic mindedness



   C.  Who participates?

   D.  Participation bias