Dictionary of Polling: The Language of Contemporary Opinion Research

By Michael L. Young | Go to book overview

J
JOE SIX-PACK The mythical common person, ordinary guy, man in the street. Joe Six-pack is the rank and file citizen who views public affairs in a simple, uncomplicated way. Politicians use the term to ask: how do the Joe Six-packs of the world look at this, or, how do we explain this to Joe Six-pack? He is a composite figure, but the term Joe Six-pack often refers to working-class people, blue-collar workers, and the middle class--literally, the type of person who supposedly buys beer by the six-pack.The contours of Joe Six-pack's mind have not been precisely mapped, but four characteristics are prominent:
1. Is not very interested in public affairs, nor very knowledgeable about them,
2. Possesses a direct, uncomplicated view of public life,
3. Holds opinions that tend to be conservative,
4. Is especially sensitive to tax increases and social spending.

Thinking about public opinion from the perspective of Joe Six-pack can be liberating. It provides fresh perspective on public issues, and inoculates against overreliance on conventional wisdom and so-called informed opinion. Keeping Joe Six-pack in mind also helps opinion analysts to translate concepts and ideas into "sixpackese."

The downside to linking public opinion to Joe Six-pack is that the stereotype falls far short of reality: the image is misleading and elitist. Ordinary Joes (and Janes) are not all selfish, insular people who ignore public affairs and eschew serious political debate. Moreover, virtually everyone becomes concerned with issues that matter to them, and are capable of working through even complex issues when convinced they are important. See also RESPONDENT; SALIENCE.

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Dictionary of Polling: The Language of Contemporary Opinion Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • A 9
  • B 19
  • C 27
  • D 49
  • E 59
  • F 71
  • G 77
  • H 83
  • I 91
  • J 105
  • K 107
  • L 109
  • M 117
  • N 129
  • O 141
  • P 147
  • Q 175
  • R 181
  • S 189
  • T 225
  • W 239
  • Y 243
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 257
  • About the Author 267
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