Interdependence in the Formation of Public Opinion

30.10.2013 - 16:15
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
MZES Public Lecture
Prof. Robert Huckfeldt, Ph.D.
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of California, Davis

Standard contemporary models of public opinion in democratic political systems focus on independent citizens who formulate opinions based on individually defined circumstance. Many of these same models further stipulate that individuals sort themselves within social and physical space in order to be among others who share their own opinions, beliefs, and characteristics. An alternative model based on the importance of communication networks among citizens, views individuals as inevitably interdependent in the formulation of public opinion and the sorting process as being important but incomplete. Moreover, heterogeneous levels of political interest and knowledge give rise to predictable patterns of opinion leadership among these interdependent individuals, and hence some individuals inevitably become more equal than others within the democratic process! 

We address these issues based on network analyses of survey respondents in Germany, Japan, and the United States, as well as several small group experiments.

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