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Public Opinion and the Media



Purpose: 1. Introduction to the major themes, debates, and puzzles in the study of public opinion. 2. Familiarization with methodological challenges of conducting research on public opinion and development of a research proposal of your own.

Content: This course is an introduction to the main issues in research about public opinion. The course covers two overlapping themes: First, we discuss the meaning and origins of public opinion. What is public opinion and how should we measure it? How do individuals form their opinions? Why should we care about public opinion? Second, we examine causes of public opinion, focusing on the role of the media. How do the media affect public opinion? How important is media influence compared to other factors? What is the relationship between new technologies, such as the internet, and public opinion? During the discussion we will critically examine the evidence and methods presented and generate new hypotheses and research topics. We mainly rely on literature developed in American politics, but students are welcome to bring up examples from other countries.

Methods of Instruction

Lectures, discussion of assigned readings.

Study Material

Aantal te bestuderen pagina’s literatuur ca. 800 pp.

Selected journal articles to be announced


Research Proposal 40%, Short essays 30%; Participation 30 %.


Tuesday 11 September till 23 October, 15.00-17.00 hrs, 1A24 and
Friday 7 September till 26 October, 15.00-17.00 hrs, 1A24

Entrance Requirements

Politieke Psychologie