The unchanging American voter /
Eric R.A.N. Smith.
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1989.
xvii, 266 p. : ill.
0520065263 (alk. paper)
More Details
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1989.
0520065263 (alk. paper)
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. 235-259.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1990-05:
This is an excellent review of arguments concerning the conclusions reached by Agnus Campbell et al. in The American Voter (1960). The authors of this classic volume argued that the vast majority of American citizens do not have much factual knowledge about politics and are ideologically unsophisticated. Smith (University of California, Santa Barbara) reviews three decades of debate over the measures that were used in that study and the conclusions of later studies that refuted it, notably Norman Nie, Sidney Verba, and John Petrocik's The Changing American Voter (CH, Sep'76). The author's research question, "Can American society change so that people will learn more about politics,. . .and grow more sophisticated in the ways they think about politics?" is tested most directly in the last chapter. Smith concludes that not only have citizen's not become more sophisticated from the 1950s to the present, but that there are few reasons to expect changes in the future, despite rising education levels. The 24 pages of citations are useful to anyone wanting up-to-date references on political sophistication research. Recommended for graduate students and faculty. -E. D. Riggle, University of Kentucky
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Choice, May 1990
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Table of Contents
List of Tablesp. xi
List of Figuresp. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Introductionp. 1
On the Meaning of Political Sophisticationp. 4
On Sophistication and Rationalityp. 5
Why Sophistication Mattersp. 6
Things to Comep. 7
Reliability of the Levels of Conceptualizationp. 9
The Levels of Conceptualization Indexesp. 10
Reliabilityp. 16
Interpreting the Test-Retest Coefficientsp. 19
The Data on Reliabilityp. 22
Further Data on Reliabilityp. 32
Conclusionsp. 42
Reliability Under the Assumption of Nominal Variablesp. 42
The Validity of the Levelsp. 45
The Question of Validityp. 47
An Alternative Hypothesisp. 52
Anomalous Findings on the Levelsp. 56
Testing the Alternative Hypothesisp. 58
Discussionp. 76
Explaining the Failure of the Levels Indexesp. 80
The Great Leap Forward That Never Was: 1960-1964p. 98
What the Levels Can Tell Usp. 101
Attitude Consistencyp. 105
The Nature of Attitude Consistencyp. 106
The Rise of Constraintp. 109
The Question Wording Controversyp. 117
Comparing Correlationsp. 129
Further Problemsp. 132
The Experimental Evidencep. 135
Conceptualizing Attitude Consistencyp. 146
Measuring Attitude Consistencyp. 155
Summary Commentsp. 158
Changes in the Public's Political Sophisticationp. 159
Preliminary Considerationsp. 159
Measures of Political Knowledgep. 163
The Structure of the Information Itemsp. 173
The Causes and Correlates of Sophisticationp. 176
Explaining Changes in the Public's Knowledgep. 191
Modeling Political Sophisticationp. 191
A Simple Recursive Model of Political Knowledgep. 196
The Results of the Modelsp. 199
Changes in the Public's Knowledge of Politicsp. 210
Isolating the Effects of Educationp. 210
Another Look at Educationp. 215
Can the Public's Sophistication Change?p. 219
The Limitations of Behavioral Researchp. 221
Concluding Commentsp. 223
On the Influence of the Changing Political Environmentp. 223
On the Definition and Measurement of Political Sophisticationp. 224
The Simulation Methodp. 229
Coding the Datap. 231
Referencesp. 235
Author Indexp. 261
Subject Indexp. 265
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