14 Glossary

The Nature of Public Opinion

agent of political socialization a person or entity that teaches and influences others about politics through use of information

classical liberalism a political ideology based on belief in individual liberties and rights and the idea of free will, with little role for government

communism a political and economic system in which, in theory, government promotes common ownership of all property, means of production, and materials to prevent the exploitation of workers while creating an equal society; in practice, most communist governments have used force to maintain control

covert content ideologically slanted information presented as unbiased information in order to influence public opinion

diffuse support the widespread belief that a country and its legal system are legitimate

fascism a political system of total control by the ruling party or political leader over the economy, the military, society, and culture and often the private lives of citizens

modern conservatism a political ideology that prioritizes individual liberties, preferring a smaller government that stays out of the economy

modern liberalism a political ideology focused on equality and supporting government intervention in society and the economy if it promotes equality

overt content political information whose author makes clear that only one side is presented

political socialization the process of learning the norms and practices of a political system through others and societal institutions

public opinion a collection of opinions of an individual or a group of individuals on a topic, person, or event

socialism a political and economic system in which government uses its authority to promote social and economic equality, providing everyone with basic services and equal opportunities and requiring citizens with more wealth to contribute more

traditional conservatism a political ideology supporting the authority of the monarchy and the church in the belief that government provides the rule of law

How Is Public Opinion Measured?

Bradley effect the difference between a poll result and an election result in which voters gave a socially desirable poll response rather than a true response that might be perceived as racist

exit poll an election poll taken by interviewing voters as they leave a polling place

leading question a question worded to lead a respondent to give a desired answer

margin of error a number that states how far the poll results may be from the actual preferences of the total population of citizens

push poll politically biased campaign information presented as a poll in order to change minds

random sample a limited number of people from the overall population selected in such a way that each has an equal chance of being chosen

representative sample a group of respondents demographically similar to the population of interest

straw poll an informal and unofficial election poll conducted with a non-random population

What Does the Public Think?

heuristics shortcuts or rules of thumb for decision making

political culture the prevailing political attitudes and beliefs within a society or region

political elite a political opinion leader who alerts the public to changes or problems

The Effects of Public Opinion

bandwagon effect increased media coverage of candidates who poll high

favorability poll a public opinion poll that measures a public’s positive feelings about a candidate or politician

horserace coverage day-to-day media coverage of candidate performance in the election

theory of delegate representation a theory that assumes the politician is in office to be the voice of the people and to vote only as the people want

What Is the Media?

agenda setting the media’s ability to choose which issues or topics get attention

mass media the collection of all media forms that communicate information to the general public

public relations biased communication intended to improve the image of people, companies, or organizations

The Evolution of the Media

citizen journalism video and print news posted to the Internet or social media by citizens rather than the news media

digital paywall the need for a paid subscription to access published online material

muckraking news coverage focusing on exposing corrupt business and government practices

party press era period during the 1780s in which newspaper content was biased by political partisanship

soft news news presented in an entertaining style

yellow journalism sensationalized coverage of scandals and human interest stories

Regulating the Media

equal-time rule an FCC policy that all candidates running for office must be given the same radio and television airtime opportunities

fairness doctrine a 1949 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy, now defunct, that required holders of broadcast licenses to cover controversial issues in a balanced manner

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) a federal statute that requires public agencies to provide certain types of information requested by citizens

indecency regulations laws that limit indecent and obscene material on public airwaves

libel printed information about a person or organization that is not true and harms the reputation of the person or organization

prior restraint a government action that stops someone from doing something before they are able to do it (e.g., forbidding someone to publish a book he or she plans to release)

reporter’s privilege the right of a journalist to keep a source confidential

slander spoken information about a person or organization that is not true and harms the reputation of the person or organization

sunshine laws laws that require government documents and proceedings to be made public

The Impact of the Media

beat the coverage area assigned to journalists for news or stories

cultivation theory the idea that media affect a citizen’s worldview through the information presented

framing the process of giving a news story a specific context or background

hypodermic theory the idea that information is placed in a citizen’s brain and accepted

minimal effects theory the idea that the media have little effect on citizens

priming the process of predisposing readers or viewers to think a particular way


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