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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2019-20

PBPL 44 Polling, Public Opinion, and Public Policy

The results of public opinion polls frequently dominate political news coverage and they often alter the behavior of politicians; moreover, political polls have started becoming news in their own right in recent years.  In this course, we will explore the techniques that pollsters use to examine public attitudes and we will consider how that information can, and should, be used to formulate public policy.  We will engage questions such as: To what degree can the public form meaningful preferences about complex political issues?  What does a political opinion consist of, and how can it be measured?  How can potential errors in polls be avoided?  How does partisanship influence public opinion, and where do Americans stand on key policy issues?  To what extent should politicians try to change public opinion rather than respond to it?  How has the nature and role of public opinion shifted in an era of rapidly advancing polling technology and a changing media environment?  In addition to examining the pertinent literature on topics such as these, we will conduct and analyze an actual public opinion survey as a class.  Through a combination of theoretical and hands-on learning, students will leave the course with a firm understanding of these dynamics.


Deborah Brooks

Cross Listed Courses


Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:SOC; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.


Not Offered in the period from 19F through 20S.