Last updated: April 14, 2007

Public Opinion (POLS 370/570)

Ball State University

Spring 2008


Instructor: Misa Nishikawa

Location: NQ207

Time: MWF 10:00-10:50a

Office: NQ228

Office Hours: MW10:50-11:40, TTh9:00-9:30, F1:30-2:20



Course Description

This course examines the effect of Public Opinion on the democratic political process.The course will focus on the measurement and interpretation of public opinion, American citizensí capacity to take a part in democracy, the influences on public opinion, and the linkage between public opinion and public policy. The course will also look into public opinion beyond the United States.


Course Requirements

Required Texts and Reading

Erikson, Robert S. and Kent L. Tedin. 2007. American Public Opinion. Updated 7th Edition

Inglehart, Ronald. 2007. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence.

Michael Bratton et al, 2004. Public Opinion, Democracy, and Market Reform in Africa. Cambridge University Press



The following course is not prerequisite for this course but is recommended.

††††††††††† POLS 210




Grade is allocated in the following way:




Exams 1, 2, and Final







Topic (2%), Intro (2%), Lit (2%), Theory (2%), Statistics (2%), Presentation (2%),

Final paper (14%)






Grading Scale: For all items in this class for which grades are assigned, the standard grading scale will be used:



























Make-up exams will not be given except in the case of extreme circumstances.The student must be able to provide documentation that the absence is unavoidable (e.g., illness, death in the family, observance of a religious holiday) and make arrangements with me prior to the scheduled exam date.††††


Exams will be based on material covered during class in lectures or class discussions and from the required readings.



For some class meetings, a few students will be assigned the responsibility of leading the class discussion or for summarizing the main arguments in specified readings.



You are required to read (academic) books or articles on public opinion and write a research paper. The length of the paper should be about 20 double spaced typed pages (with 12 point font and one inch margins). The paper is due on April 23. No extensions will be granted. Ten points will be subtracted from your grade for each day that the paper is late. The paper will not be accepted beyond three days from the due date. You are required to present your report to the class.


Other assignments. To be announced.


General Expectations

Participation in class discussions is strongly encouraged.Of course, participation should be constructive, and all comments should be relevant to the material being covered in class.†† Students must do all of the reading!Respect should be shown for all other class members at all times. Inappropriate and disruptive participation/behavior will result in a drop in the studentís grade.


Students are expected to attend class regularly, arrive promptly and have a collegial demeanor.Students are not allowed to sleep, read newspapers, listen to headphones, or talk to others during class.Engaging in these behaviors will result in a drop in the studentís grade.†††


Students will be responsible for knowing any changes made to the syllabus during class time whether they were in attendance or not.The instructorís lecture notes are not available to students; it is the studentís responsibility to obtain class notes from a classmate, should class be missed.††


Be aware that problems with computers or printers are not good excuses for late papers.


If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.


Academic Honesty:

Honesty, trust, and personal responsibility are fundamental attributes of the university community.  Academic dishonesty by a student will not be tolerated, for it threatens the foundation of an institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.  To maintain its credibility and reputation, and to equitably assign evaluations of scholastic and creative performance, Ball State University is committed to maintaining a climate that upholds and values the highest standards of academic integrity.







Week 1

Jan 7 (M)

Class introduction



Jan 9 (W)

Public opinion in democratic societies

E&T Ch 1


Jan 11 (F)

Polling: The Scientific assessment

E&T Ch 2

Week 2

Jan 14 (M)

Microlevel opinion

E&T Ch 3


Jan 16 (W)

Macrolevel opinion

E&T Ch 4


Jan 18 (F)

Political socialization and political learning

E&T Ch 5

Week 3

Jan 21 (M)

Martin Luther King



Jan 23 (W)

Public opinion and democratic stability

E&T Ch 6


Jan 25 (F)

Group Differences in Political Opinions

E&T Ch 7

Week 4

Jan 28 (M)

The news media and political opinions

E&T Ch 8


Jan 30 (W)

Elections as instruments of popular control

E&T Ch 9


Feb 1 (F)

The public and its elected leaders

E&T Ch 10

Week 5

Feb 4 (M)

Public opinion and the performance of democracy

E&T Ch 11


Feb 6 (W)

Review Exam 1



Feb 8 (F)

Exam 1


Week 6

Feb 11 (M)

Modernization, cultural change and democracy

Students 1, 2

I&W Introduction


Feb 13 (W)

Paper: Topic



Feb 15 (F)

The forces shaping value change I

Students 3, 4

I&W Ch1

Week 7

Feb 18 (M)

The forces shaping value change II

Due: Paper topic

Students 5, 6

I&W Ch2


Feb 20 (W)

Paper: Introduction



Feb 22 (F)

The forces shaping value change III

Students 1, 2

I&W Ch3

Week 8

Feb 25 (M)

The forces shaping value change IV

Due: Introduction

Students 3, 4

I&W Ch4


Feb 27 (W)

Paper: Literature review



Feb 29 (F)

The forces shaping value change V

Students 5, 6

I&W Ch5

Week 9

Mar 3 (M)

The forces shaping value change VI

Students 1, 2

I&W Ch6


Mar 5 (W)

The Consequences of value change I

Students 3, 4

Due: Literature review

I&W Ch7


Mar 7 (F)

Paper: Theory


Week 10

Mar 10 (M)




Mar 12 (W)




Mar 14 (F)



Week 11

Mar 17 (M)

The Consequences of value change II

Students 5, 6

I&W Ch8


Mar 19 (W)

The Consequences of value change III

Students 1, 2

I&W Ch9


Mar 21 (F)

Review Exam 2

Due: Theory


Week 12

Mar 24(M)

Exam 2



Mar 26 (W)

Paper: Statistics I



Mar 28 (F)


Students 3, 4

Bratton et al. Introduction

Week 13

Mar 31 (M)

Africaís Hybrid Regimes

Students 5, 6

Bratton et al. Ch1


Apr 2 (W)

Studying public opinion in Africa

Students 1, 2

Bratton et al. Ch2


Apr 4 (F)

Attitudes to democracy

Students 3, 4

Bratton et al. Ch3

Week 14

Apr 7 (M)

Attitudes to market economy

Students 5, 6

Due: Statistics

Bratton et al. Ch4


Apr 9 (W)

Economic and political behavior


Bratton et al. Ch5


Apr 11 (F)

Research Ethics

Paper: Statistics


Week 15

Apr 14 (M)

Research Ethics

Paper: Statistics



Apr 16 (W)

Paper: Statistics



Apr 18 (F)

Paper: Statistics


Week 16

Apr 21 (M)

Paper: Prep presentation

Review: Exam 3



Apr 23 (W)

Due: Final Paper



Apr 25 (F)



Week 17

Final week Apr 29 (Tue) 9:45-11:45

Exam 3