The factual basis of “belief systems”: A reassessment

Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 18 (1-3):233-254 (2006)
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Abstract

Converse contended that the ideological disorganization, attitudi‐nal inconsistency, and limited information of American voters make them a politically disengaged mass, not a responsible electorate. I illustrate the shortcomings of Converse's line of reasoning by showing that he misread his two most prominent examples of the electoral consequences of his theory: voting on the Vietnam War in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, and public opinion about the 1948 Taft‐Hartley Act. In both cases, voters were better able to sort candidates and policies than Converse reported, despite their lack of ideological sophistication or their knowledge of specific legislation. Converse's interpretive errors here stem from mistaken assumptions about information processing and recall, and from questionable normative standards about what constitute meaningful and competent political orientation. His criteria underestimate the public's ability to make responsible choices, and the effect of campaigns on the choosing process.

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Citations of this work

Ignorance as a starting point: From modest epistemology to realistic political theory.Jeffrey Friedman - 2007 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 19 (1):1-22.
Ignorance as a Starting Point: From Modest Epistemology to Realistic Political Theory.Jeffrey Friedman - 2007 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 19 (1):1-22.

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