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date: 22 February 2020

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

Public opinion and the media form the foundation of representative democracy in the United States. They are the subject of enormous scrutiny by scholars, pundits, and ordinary citizens. This volume takes on the “big questions” about public opinion and the media in popular debates and in social scientific research. The volume brings together the thinking of leading academic experts, delivering fresh assessments of what we know about public opinion, the media, and their interconnections. This volume is particularly attentive to the changes in the mass media and communications technology and the sharp expansion in the number of cable television channels, websites and blogs, and the new social media, which are changing how news about political life is collected and conveyed. The changing dynamics of the media and public opinion have created a process that we call informational interdependence. These extensive interconnections exert a wide range of influences on public opinion as the processes by which information reaches the public have been transformed.

In addition to encompassing critical developments in public opinion and the media, this volume brings together a remarkable diversity of research from psychology, genetics, political science, sociology, and the study of gender, race, and ethnicity. Many of the chapters integrate analyses of broader developments in public opinion and political behavior with attention to critical variations based on economic status, education and sophistication, religion, and generational change, drawing on research that uses survey data and experimental designs. Moreover, the book covers the variations in public opinion and media coverage across domestic and foreign policy issues.

As academics well know—and as we tell our students—every project takes longer than you think. This book was no exception. We thank Dominic Byatt, Jennifer Lunsford, Sarah Parker, and Elizabeth Suffling at Oxford University Press, and copy‐editor Laurien Berkeley, for their patience and superb assistance in moving this volume to publication. We are especially grateful to our good colleague George Edwards for proposing to Oxford that we undertake this volume. We share credit for what we have put together with him, but take full responsibility for any shortcomings. Stephen Thompson and Michael Scott provided able assistance as we scrambled to finish the volume, as did the proofreader, Debbie Sutcliffe, and indexer, Michael Tombs.

We thank most of all the outstanding scholars who agreed readily and with good cheer to write chapters for us. We stole their valuable time so that we and this volume's readers would benefit from their highly engaged research and collective expertise.

Columbia University's Department of Political Science, its Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and Center for the Study of Politics and Governance have provided (p. vi) us with strong academic homes and support. We began work on this volume while Shapiro was finishing the 2006/7 year as a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, which supported work that is reflected in this volume's final chapter regarding political leadership, “pathologies,” and partisan conflict.

And as always, each of us is indebted to our soul mates, Nancy Rubenstein and Julie Schumacher, who were patient as we worked on this volume—and let us know that.



New York and St Paul

August 2010