Knowledge, Sophistication, and Issue Publics

Vincent Hutchings and Spencer Piston

in The Oxford Handbook of American Public Opinion and the Media

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780199545636
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Knowledge, Sophistication, and Issue Publics


This chapter investigates the level of political information in America. It begins with a review of relevant research, in which it shows that American citizens have surprisingly low levels of general knowledge when compared to political elites or to citizens from other Western countries. The chapter then discusses how the current measures of refining political knowledge may be improved, and reviews literature on ideological sophistication. The next section studies scholars' contention that Americans are not only ignorant but also not ideologically sophisticated. Finally, the chapter discusses research on issue publics.

Keywords: political information; political elites; American citizens; political knowledge; ideological sophistication; issue publics

Article.  6867 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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