Trends in Public Opinion: A Compendium of Survey Data

By Richard G. Niemi; John Mueller et al. | Go to book overview

2
International Affairs

Polling questions in the areas of foreign and international affairs tend to change from crisis to crisis, so that long- term trends are often difficult to document. For example, one might wish to assess the impact that the war in Vietnam had on international attitudes, as it is sometimes suggested that the war shattered a Cold War consensus that had prevailed earlier (see, for example, Holsti and Rosenau 1984). However, while the data show that a substantial variety of opinion on foreign policy existed in the post-Vietnam era, there is little comparable data from earlier periods to indicate whether opinion was any less divided at that time.

A trend line that does have a substantial history concerns the public's expections about another world war (Table 2.1). As the Cold War became established by 1947, concerns that the United States would soon find itself in another big war grew (rising concern about Soviet intentions at the time is vividly documented in Table 2.14). There was a further growth in concern at the time of the Czech coup and the Berlin Blockade in 1948, but the Korean War, which began at the end of June 1950 and escalated with the dramatic entry of the Chinese in November, pushed the measure to near-unanimous levels. Other questions suggest that lowered, but lingering, fears of war persisted into the early 1960s and then tapered off in the post-1963 era of detente between the United States and the Soviet Union ( Mueller, 1979). When the question in Table 2.1 was revived in 1976 and in the 1980s, fear of war had dropped to some of its lowest levels. The 1950s have become "happy days" in legend, but the public's fear of major war was far higher than in later, putatively less happy days.

The most frequently asked question about isolationism (Table 2.2) is a bit on the bland side, and it has shown little variation in the four decades during which it has been asked. There was perhaps some rise in internationalism in the

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Trends in Public Opinion: A Compendium of Survey Data
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • References 10
  • 1 - Politics 11
  • References 14
  • 2 - International Affairs 49
  • REPERENCES 51
  • 3 - Taxation and Spending 73
  • References 75
  • 4 - Confidence in Institutions 93
  • References 95
  • 5 - Political Tolerance 107
  • References 109
  • 6 - Crime and Violence 131
  • References 133
  • 7 - Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs 153
  • References 155
  • 8 - Race Relations 167
  • 9 - Sexual and Reproductive Morality 187
  • References 189
  • 10 - Death and Dying 215
  • References 216
  • 11 - Role of Women 223
  • References 224
  • 12 - Work 235
  • References 237
  • 13 - Religion 251
  • References 252
  • 14 - Family 265
  • 15 - Psychological Well-Being/Group Membership 287
  • References 288
  • Index of GSS Mnemonics 317
  • Index 321
  • About the Authors 327
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