Introduction: The Public's Part of Public Discussion

in Talking about Politics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226872186
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226872216 | DOI:
Introduction: The Public's Part of Public Discussion

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This chapter argues that informal interaction should not be overlooked, because it is a way in which people collectively develop fundamental tools of political understanding. Political scientists have given the act of understanding politics, also referred to as the act of interpreting or making sense of politics, far less attention than the act of evaluating or making political choices. In analyzing processes of interpretation, the dependent variable is no longer preferences but perspectives. Preferences are attitudes about particular issues. Perspectives are the lenses through which people view issues. Some aspects of a person's perspective or outlook on life are not necessarily tied to their social context. Yet, how people look at the world is grounded in where they place themselves in relation to others. Social identities are not just one component of worldviews. Instead, we see the world through ideas of where we place ourselves in relation to others.

Keywords: informal interaction; political understanding; political choices; perspective; preferences; social identities

Chapter.  7146 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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