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Terms in this set (49)
events and issues that concern the people at large, such as politics and the making of public policies
those attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics
Mass Media (definition)
those means of communication that reach large, widely dispersed audiences simultaneously
those people with whom one regularly associates, including friends, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors
any person who has an unusually strong influence on the views of others
What factors help to shape public opinion?
family, school, race, occupation, gender, mass media, peer groups, opinion leaders, and historic events
- Public opinion in the United States is typically divided
- Any given public issue is likely to have separate groups with their own points of view
- In addition, people disagree about which public issues are important
- Few issues capture the attention of all Americans
- Most issues are of little interest to the majority
What do public affairs include?
events and issues involving politics, public issues, and the making of public policies
*** political parties, candidates, taxes, unemployment, national defense, foreign policy, and so forth
What can shift public opinion?
- changing events
*** The recovery or worsening of the economy, the ending of the Iraq conflict, or a terrorist strike could raise or lower public opinion on any of those issues
The process by which a person gains his or her political views
- process begins in early childhood and involves the influence of many experiences and relationships
*** Family & school
- Parents have a strong influence on the basic beliefs that will shape the political views of their children
- Children tend to favor the political parties supported in the households in which they were raised
- Schools try to prepare students to become good citizens by educating them about our political system
- Schools give students an informal education about decision-making, influence, and compromise
- occupation and racial background are usually more significant than factors such as gender or place of residence
- mass media, peer groups, opinion leaders, and historic events
- includes radio, television, magazines, and newspapers.
- More than 98 percent of the 115 million U.S. households have a television, and most are turned on for eight or more hours a day
How does one's peer group shape his or her attitudes?
- it reinforces a person's existing beliefs rather than introduce new beliefs
1960's & 1970's
1960: nation was shaken and divided by civil rights movement, Vietnam War, and the assassinations of JFK & Martin Luther King Jr.
1970: watergate scandal & resignation of Nixon
- events of these two decades caused many Americans to lose respect and trust for their gov
the instructions a constituency gives its elected officials
a private group that works to shape the making of public policy
public opinion poll
a tool used to collect information by asking people questions
a nonscientific poll that asks many people the same question
the whole population that a poll aims to measure
a representative slice of the total universe
a polling group of randomly selected people
a polling group constructed to reflect the major characteristics of a given universe
How is public opinion measured and used?
- Public opinion is measured by election results, personal contacts, media reporting, and especially by polls.
- most common polls are straw polls, while the most accurate measures of public opinion are scientific polls.
- Officials use public opinion to guide their public policy decisions
- voice of people supposed to be expressed through ballot box
- election results are seldom an accurate measure of public opinion
- supposed to be the best method
Why are elections not an accurate method
not everyone over 18 votes
- private organizations whose members share certain views and objectives, and who work to shape the making and the content of public policy
- they can spin their views anyway they want
Why are interest groups not the best method
public officials have trouble determining two things
1. How many people does an interest group really represent?
2. How strongly do those people hold the views that an organization says they hold
- "mirrors" or "molders" of opinion
- media are not very accurate mirrors of public opinion, often reflecting only the views of a vocal minority (only the people that speak up)
- they try to read the public's mind
- You can't technically read people's minds
Public Opinion Polls
devices that attempt to collect information by asking people questions
- most common
- polls that sought to read the public's mind simply by asking the same question of a large number of people
What is the problem with Straw votes?
- respondents are self-selected
- nothing ensures that that those who respond will represent a reasonably accurate cross section of the total population
- emphasizes quantity rather than quality of the sample
- most accurate way
- 5 basic steps (define the universe to be surveyed, construct a sample, prepare valid questions, select and control how the poll is taken, analyze and report results)
What is the problem with scientific polling
have difficulty measuring the intensity, stability, and relevance of opinions
means of communication that transmits some kind of info
Web site postings usually devoted to a specific subject, like politics
the societal problems that the nation's political leaders and the general public agree need government attention
short, focused reports that can be aired in about 30-45 seconds
- boomed in 1950's
- main source of news for 80% of Americans today
- three major national networks (ABC, CBS, NBC)
- were the main news source in colonies and the early nation
- cover stories in greater depth than TV
- more than 10,000 papers are published today
- number of newspapers has been declining b/c of TV and internet
- began in 1920's
- remains influential b/c of its convenience
- focuses on a specific group of listeners
*** FDR's fireside chats
- appeared in the mid-1800's
- 12,000 magazines are published today
- leading source of political news right behind TV, but ahead of magazines, radio, and newspapers
- interactive (allows citizens to instantly post back)
***weblogs and podcasts
What does the media play a key role in?
- shaping the public agenda
- determining what policy issues the public thinks and talks about, by emphasizing some issues and stories while ignoring or downplaying others
What does the media NOT do?
- doesn't tell people what to think...only what to think about
How do candidates use media coverage to their advantage?
- to appeal directly to the people without having to rely as much on their political parties
- They also control their media image and manipulate media coverage, using staged events and sound bites to present themselves in a positive way and get maximum exposure
Limits on Media Influence
- Few people follow media coverage of political events very closely
- only small part of public actually takes in & understands what the media says
- Most radio and TV programs do not cover public affairs, and their news coverage is not typically in-depth
- People tend to follow political news that agrees with their own views
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
2.3, 2.4, & 2.5
Freedom of Religion, and speech & amendments 11-27
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