Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview

and/or party cues toward a more individualized and inwardly oriented style of political choice. Instead of depending upon party elites and reference groups, more citizens now attempt to deal with the complexities of politics and make their own political decisions. What is developing is an eclectic and egocentric pattern of political decision making. Rather than socially structured and relatively homogeneous personal networks, contemporary publics are more likely to base their electoral decisions on policy preferences, performance judgments, or candidate images.

The relationship between the individual and the media both contributes to these trends and reinforces them ( Semetko et al. 1991; Miller 1990). The contemporary media provide voters with a greater variety of information sources, and potentially a more critical perspective of established political actors such as parties, labor unions, and industries. Access to a diverse media environment enables the public to become active selectors of information rather than passive consumers of political cues provided by others. In addition, the ability to see candidates and parliamentary leaders up close and personal on television has caused more attention to be paid to the personal attributes of politicians, such as competence and integrity. The expansion of the 1992 American presidential campaign into new media forums illustrates this point, and similar developments can be observed in other Western democracies, albeit in more modest form, as new communications technologies change the patterns of information flow.

The individualization of politics also displays itself in the increasing heterogeneity of the public's issue interests. Issues of environmentalism, women's rights, and lifestyles choices have been added to the already full agenda of advanced industrial democracies. In addition, schema theory argues that citizens are becoming fragmented into a variety of distinct issue publics (also see RePass 1971; Budge and Farlie 1983; Franklin 1992). Rather than politics being structured by a group benefits framework, which often reflected socially derived cues, citizens now tend to focus on specific issues of immediate or personal importance.

These developments have the potential to either improve or weaken the "quality" of the democratic process and the representation of the public's political interests. The nature of contemporary political beliefs means that public opinion is simultaneously becoming more fluid and less predictable. This uncertainty forces parties and candidates to become more sensitive to public opinion, at least the opinions of those who vote. Motivated issue voters are more likely to at least have their voices heard, even if they are not accepted. Furthermore, the ability of politicians to have unmediated communications with voters can strengthen the link between politicians and the people. To some extent, the individualization of electoral choice revives earlier images of the informed independent voter that we once found in classic democratic theory.

At the same time, there is a potential dark side to these new forces in electoral politics. The rise of single-issue politics handicaps a society's attempts to deal with political issues that transcend specific interests, such as the U.S. budget deficit. A focus on issue publics also leaves the electorally inactive disenfranchised. Too great an interest in a single issue, or too much emphasis on recent performance, can produce a narrow definition of rationality that is as harmful to democracy as "frozen" social cleavages. In addition, direct ummediated contact between politicians and citizens opens the potential for demagoguery and political extremism. Both extreme right-wing and left-wing political movements probably benefit from this new political environment, at least in the short term.

The early empiricists called for a mix of stability and change in mass politics as an essential feature of democracy ( Almond and Verba 1963; Berelson et al. 1954). Today, the balance of this mix has changed significantly for most contemporary democracies. It is unlikely that we will ever see the old electoral style of the past repeated, for the nature of electoral politics has permanently changed.


Notes

We would like to thank Robert Huckfeldt, Robert Luskin, and several of the anonymous reviewers for their advice and comments on this chapter; we also want to thank James Hankin for his assistance in preparing this chapter.

1.
In order to understand the dynamics of electoral choice, the interested reader should also consult the separate chapters on public opinion ( Paul Sniderman) and political communication ( Doris Graber) in this volume.
2.
Faced with this empirical evidence, some scholars attempted to recast democratic theory to make a virtue of the public's apparently limited abilities. Berelson and his colleagues ( 1954, 315), for instance, maintained that the smooth functioning of democratic process required that most citizens remain politically aloof, providing some latitude for elites to act and avoiding excessive political conflict. Similarly, Almond and Verba ( 1963) cautioned that a democratic political culture required a mix of attentive and inattentive citizens that would enable the system to avoid the hyper-politicization and polarization that characterized unstable democracies, such as the Weimar Republic. For a critique of this argument see Barber ( 1984) and Dalton ( 1988).
3.
Smith's analyses emphasize how much people say about politics, using the number of responses to the open-ended likes/dislikes question, rather than content of these responses. By substituting quantity for the quality of response, Smith ignores what sophistication is supposed to measure (see Luskin 1987).
4.
For example, the methodological studies of the 1970s showed that the seven-point scales, now the preferred methdology of the

-213-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Political Science: The State of the Discipline II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Theory and Method 1
  • 1: Texts and Canons: The Status of the "Great Books" in Political Theory 3
  • Conclusion 21
  • Notes 22
  • Bibliography 23
  • 2: Political Theory in the 1980s: Perplexity Amidst Diversity 27
  • Notes 43
  • Bibliography 43
  • Additional Bibliography 46
  • 3: Feminist Challenges to Political Science 55
  • Notes 72
  • Bibliography 73
  • 4: Formal Rational Choice Theory: A Cumulative Science of Politics 77
  • Concluding Comments 97
  • Notes 98
  • Bibliography 101
  • 5: The Comparative Method 105
  • Conclusion 116
  • Notes 117
  • Bibliography 117
  • 6: The State of Quantitative Political Methodology 121
  • Conclusion 148
  • Notes 148
  • Bibliography 150
  • Political Processes and Individual Political Behavior 161
  • 7: Comparative Political Parties: Research and Theory 163
  • Conclusion 183
  • Notes 184
  • Bibliography 185
  • 8: The Not So Simple Act of Voting 193
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 214
  • 9: The New Look in Public Opinion Research 219
  • Notes 240
  • Bibliography 240
  • 10: Expanding Disciplinary Boundaries 247
  • Conclusion 269
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 271
  • 11: Citizens, Contexts, and Politics 281
  • Conclusion: Putting the Puzzle Back Together 299
  • Bibliography 300
  • 12: Political Communication 305
  • Conclusions 323
  • Bibliography 324
  • Political Institutions of the State 333
  • 13: Legislatures: Individual Purpose and Institutional Performance 335
  • Conclusions: Behavior, Institutions, and Theory 354
  • Notes 357
  • Bibliography 357
  • 14: Public Law and Judicial Politics 365
  • 15: Political Executives and Their Officials 383
  • Conclusion 402
  • Bibliography 403
  • 16: Public Administration: The State of the Field 407
  • Notes 423
  • Bibliography 424
  • Nations and Their Relationships 429
  • 17: Comparative Politics 431
  • Conclusion 443
  • Notes 444
  • Bibliography 446
  • 18: Global Political Economy 451
  • Conclusion 474
  • Notes 476
  • Bibliography 477
  • Conclusions 483
  • Conclusions 503
  • Notes 504
  • Bibliography 505
  • Appendix 511
  • Contributors 513
  • Index of Cited Authors 517
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 538

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.