3 August 2012
Public Opinion and Public Policy
A fundamental principle of democratic government is that policy will be a function of opinion. There are accordingly large and growing bodies of literature focused on whether and the extent to which there is an opinion-policy connection. Do governments respond to, and do policies reflect, public opinion? Does the public respond to changes in policy? These are critical questions for those interested in the structure and value of public opinion, and in the nature and quality of representative democracy as well.
This course focuses on the reciprocal links between public opinion and public policy. The ten lectures fall into four themes: (1) we review normative and empirical political theory dealing with the role of public opinion in representative democracy; (2) we explore different approaches to empirically connecting public opinion to legislative behavior and/or policy outcomes; (3) we examine the extent to which public opinion is responsive and well-informed; (4) we review two of the (many) ways in which the strength of opinion-policy links may vary — across political institutions, and across individuals with varying levels of income. In a final class, students (as well as the instructor) have the option of presenting a research proposal for discussion by the class.
The course is intended to provide students with some of the critical tools — both theoretical and empirical — to understand and engage in research on public opinion and policy.
Associate Professor Stuart N. Soroka
PhD students, postgraduate students
To provide PhD research training at the highest level.
NOK 3200: The tuition fee cover parts of the required reading material, lunch every course day, as well as some social arrangements.