New Directions in Public Opinion: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

New Directions in Public Opinion

2nd Edition

Edited by Adam J. Berinsky


382 pages | 52 B/W Illus.

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The field of public opinion is one of the most diverse in political science. Over the last 60 years, scholars have drawn upon the disciplines of psychology, economics, sociology, and even biology to learn how ordinary people come to understand the complicated business of politics. But much of the path-breaking research in the field of public opinion is published in journals, taking up fairly narrow questions one at a time and often requiring advanced statistical knowledge to understand these findings. As a result, the study of public opinion can seem confusing and incoherent to undergraduates. To engage undergraduate students in this area, a new type of textbook is required.

The second edition of New Directions in Public Opinion brings together leading scholars to provide an accessible and coherent overview of the current state of the field of public opinion. Each chapter provides a general overview of topics that are at the cutting edge of study as well as well-established cornerstones of the field. Each contributor has made substantive revisions to their chapters, and three chapters have been added on genetics and biology, immigration, and political extremism and the Tea Party. Suitable for use as a main textbook or in tandem with a lengthier survey, this book comprehensively covers the topics of public opinion research and pushes students further to explore critical topics in contemporary politics.


"Berinsky has brought together a world-class group of scholars working on cutting edge puzzles in the causes and consequences of public opinion. The book is an excellent resource for students, containing foundational insights about measurement and research design, electoral dynamics, and campaign media strategy. The largest contribution of this volume, however, may be the treasure trove of ideas for future research on the impact of group attitudes and identities in structuring our politics."

-- Nicholas A. Valentino, University of Michigan

"With its new and updated chapters, the second edition of New Directions in Public Opinion improves upon what was already an extremely valuable collection of essays from an impressive group of leading scholars. Berinsky’s masterful structuring of the book will allow it to be used as either a main text or a supplementary reader in a wide variety of courses. With just the right mix of analytical depth and topical breadth, this text will provide a solid grounding in six decades of public opinion research while also engaging and exciting students with its timely essays on pioneering new developments in the field."

-- Matthew Jacobsmeier, West Virginia University

"In the latest edition of Berinsky’s New Directions in Public Opinion, leading scholars of public opinion have written engaging chapters that survey recent research. Berinsky’s volume continues to be the best overview of the topic, perfect for students who want to learn about new developments."

-- Gabriel Lenz, University of California-Berkeley

Table of Contents

Introduction and Overview Adam Berinsky Part I: The Meaning and Measurement of Public Opinion 1. History and the Meaning of Public Opinion Susan Herbst 2. The Practice of Survey Research: Changes and Challenges D. Sunshine Hillygus 3. Two-thirds full? Citizen Competence and Democratic Governance Martin Gilens Part II Foundations of Political Preferences 4. The Structure, Foundations, and Expression of Ideology Christopher Federico 5. Race, Ethnicity, and the Group Bases of Public Opinion Jane Junn, Tali Mendelberg, and Erica Czaja 6. The Politics of Gender Nancy Burns, Donald Kinder, Ashley Jardina and Molly Reynolds 7. Partisanship and Polarization in Contemporary Politics Marc Hetherington 8. Personality and Public Opinion Jeffery Mondak and Matthew Hibbing 9. No Longer "Beyond our Scope" :The Biological and Non-Conscious Underpinnings of Public Opinion Frank Gonzalez, John Hibbing and Kevin Smith 10. The Emotional Foundations of Democratic Citizenship Ted Brader 11. A Jump to the Right, A Step to the Left: Religion and Public Opinion David E. Campbell and Geoffrey C. Layman Part III: The Public and Society 12. Campaigns and Elections John Sides 13. Ambivalence in American Public Opinion about Immigration Deborah Schildkraut 14. Public Opinion and Reactionary Movements: From the Klan to the Tea Party Politics Matt Barreto and Christopher Parker 15. Media, Public Opinion, and Presidential Leadership Matt Baum 16. Public Opinion and Public Policy Andrea Louise Campbell and Elizabeth Rigby 17. Conclusion David Sears

About the Editor

Adam J. Berinsky is Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab. He is the author of In Time of War: Understanding Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq (Chicago) and Silent Voices: Opinion Polls and Political Participation in America (Princeton). He has received numerous awards for his research.

About the Series

New Directions in American Politics

The Routledge series New Directions in American Politics is composed of contributed volumes covering key areas of study in the field of American politics and government. Each title provides a state-of-the-art overview of current trends in its respective subfield, with an eye toward cutting edge research accessible to undergraduate students. While the volumes reflect all the main topics of relevant study, rather than cover the dry "nuts and bolts" of the subject they instead engage readers through intriguing puzzles and relevant questions that tie into your syllabus. The most recent scholarship, real-world controversies, and theoretical debates come alive in these volumes, getting students excited about the same issues that animate scholars.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies