Relationship between public opinion and government policy

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relationship between public opinion and government policy

that we lack reliable survey data on state-to-state variation in public opinion. This paper reports the relationship between state policy and public opinion on. Public opinion can have various effects on how policy is made or viewed. Marcus Hobley sifts through the sometimes troubled relationship. key factor in influencing the decision of the Canadian government to keep their troops Broadly speaking, the report found a differing view between the generations. Yet efforts by political leaders to accommodate government policies to public or hostility among elites toward popular participation in government and politics. . The World Association for Public Opinion Research was founded in

What are the most common sources of political socialization and how do they shed light on the differences in opinion that occupy American politics? What is the role of political ideology in organizing the political opinions Americans hold?

relationship between public opinion and government policy

Preferences are formed socially, as the product of various agents and processes known as political socialization. There are numerous agents of socialization. The family is an important agent of socialization; children often though by no means always absorb political preferences from their parents.

Education, often a great equalizer and source of common values, also produces political differences, as disparities in educational attainment are strongly associated, for example, with differences in political participation. Involuntary social groups e.

Patterns of differing opinions based on race, ethnicity, religious denomination, and gender emerge repeatedly in surveys.

Chapter Public Opinion | American Government, Core 12e: W. W. Norton StudySpace

Changing political conditions associated with generational differences and when individuals are first recruited into political involvement can alter political attitudes and behavior. Liberals tend to support political and social reform; extensive governmental intervention in the economy; federal social services; greater efforts on behalf of the poor, minorities, and women; environmental concerns; and consumer rights.

The Relationship between Public Opinion and Crime Policy: It's complicated...

Conservatives tend to support the social and economic status quo; many support smaller government, oppose regulation of business, oppose abortion, support school prayer, and advocate the maintenance of American military power. Public Opinion and Political Knowledge What is the state of political attentiveness and political knowledge among American citizens?

What are the consequences of the current state of political knowledge in America? Are coalition governments more responsive to ongoing changes in opinion? Although proportional systems may provide more indirect representation, it is not clear that they afford greater direct representation.

There is reason to think that governments in majoritarian systems actually are more responsive to opinion change. First, it presumably is easier for a single party to respond to changes than a multiparty coalition, as coordination in the latter is more difficult and costly.

Second, majoritarian governments may have more of an incentive to respond to opinion change. Since a shift in electoral sentiment has bigger consequences on Election Day in majoritarian systems, governments there are likely to pay especially close attention to the ebb and flow of opinion.

Thus, it may be that the two systems both work to serve representation, but in different ways, where proportional systems provide better indirect representation via elections and majoritarian systems better direct representation in between elections. Government Institutions Just as electoral systems may matter, so too may government institutions.

In particular, research suggests that the horizontal division of powers may structure the relationships between opinion and policy over time. This presumably aids indirect representation: To the extent election outcomes reflect public opinion, then policy representation will follow quite naturally, at least to the extent we have responsible parties. The same seemingly is not true about direct representation, and there is reason to suppose that parliamentary governments are less reliable in their attendance to public opinion over time.

Scholars have long noted the dominance of cabinets over parliaments see, e. Scholars portray a world in which governments exercise substantial discretion, where the cabinet is the proposer, putting legislation to a legislature that ultimately has only a limited check on what the government does.

This has fairly direct implications for government responsiveness. When there are differences between what the cabinet and parliament want, the latter cannot effectively impose its own contrary will.

In the latter the executive cannot effectively act without the legislature, at least with respect to statute.

The legislature is the proposer—it puts statute to the executive—and while the executive can veto legislation the legislature can typically override. Most changes in policy require agreement between the executive and legislature, or else a supermajority in the latter. This is likely to reduce disjunctures between public opinion and policy change. Although the separation of powers makes presidential systems more deliberate in their actions, therefore, it may also make them more reliably responsive to public opinion over time.

We still expect representation in parliamentary systems, of course—after all, governments in these systems are more easily held accountable for their actions, as responsibility is far clearer, particularly in a majoritarian context. In between elections, however, there is little to make parliamentary cabinets accountable except for the prospect of a future electoral competition. Though important, the incentive is imperfect.

Who gets what they want in policy? In one conception, the public consists of all citizens, all adults at least. Citizens are all, more or less, equally entitled to vote, and each person has but one vote.

Perhaps then we should all have equal weight where policymaking is concerned. In particular, we might expect politicians to pay special attention to the preferences of active voters.

Public opinion can play a positive role in policy making

These are the people who matter on Election Day, after all—they are the ones who put and keep politicians in office. The representation of voters rather than citizens would not matter much if voters were a random sample. But we know that there are differences between the voting and nonvoting public: Not surprisingly, voters tend to be more conservative than their nonvoting counterparts.

If politicians are more attentive to this group, and follow the median voter, then policy will be more conservative than the median citizen would like. This is of obvious importance. We still know relatively little empirically, however, though scholarly interest is on the rise, particularly in the United States.

relationship between public opinion and government policy

Griffin and Newman reveal that politicians pay more attention to the opinions of voters than those of nonvoters. There may be related socio-demographic manifestations, across race for example. Political equality also may have explicitly partisan expressions. It may be, for instance, that politicians are more responsive to in-partisans, as Hill and Hurley have argued.

This and the other work on inequality in representation is important.

relationship between public opinion and government policy

It only scratches the surface, however. The Cabinet Office is seeking new ways to involve the public in policy formation in both the transparency and open data agendas — which allow us to see exactly where every penny of our taxes is going and opens up the space for political and public debate on previously untouchables areas of state expenditure.

Areas such as benefits reform at the Department of Work and Pensions including free TV licences, winter fuel allowance, free bus passes could all be up for discussion. This would have been thinking the unthinkable in the past. Public opinion could also help set the pace of reform. To overcome frustrations around the lengthy timetable required to implement reform, why not allow policy to be timetabled to align with public opinion?

Therein lies the momentum and impetus to accelerate the speed at which the aptly labelled dead hand of the state implements policy. The findings from Britain depict a generation whose view of the state is highly contrasted to views held by their parents and grandparents. Broadly speaking, the report found a differing view between the generations about what the state should or should not be doing.

At one end of the spectrum the elder "collectivist" post-war generation who, unsurprisingly, places value in a society and state that cares for the most needy, and at the other, a younger generation of teenagers and those in their 20's who broadly take a more "individualist" view of the world where each needs to take greater responsibility for themselves.