Mobilizing Public Opinion: Black Insurgency and Racial Attitudes in the Civil Rights Era

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University of Chicago Press, May 1, 2002 - Political Science - 293 pages
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What motivates us to change our opinions during times of political protest and social unrest? To investigate this question, Taeku Lee's smartly argued book looks to the critical struggle over the moral principles, group interests, and racial animosities that defined public support for racial policies during the civil rights movement, from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. Challenging the conventional view that public opinion is shaped by elites, Lee crafts an alternate account of the geographic, institutional, historical, and issue-specific contexts that form our political views. He finds that grassroots organizations and local protests of ordinary people pushed demands for social change into the consciousness of the general public. From there, Lee argues, these demands entered the policy agendas of political elites. Evidence from multiple sources including survey data, media coverage, historical accounts, and presidential archives animate his argument.

Ultimately, Mobilizing Public Opinion is a timely, cautionary tale about how we view public opinion and a compelling testament to the potential power of ordinary citizens.
  

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
ONE Elite Opinion Theory and Activated Mass Opinion
17
TWO Black Insurgency and the Dynamics of Mass Opinion
43
THREE The Sovereign Status of Survey Data
71
FOUR Constituency Mail as Public Opinion
91
FIVE The Racial Regional and Organizational Bases of Mass Activation
120
SIX Contested Meanings and Movement Agency
150
SEVEN Two Nations Separate Grooves
186
APPENDIX TWO Bibliographic Sources for Racial Attitude Items1937 1965
213
APPENDIX THREE Sampling and Coding of Constituency Mail
215
APPENDIX FOUR Typology of Interpretive Frames
218
Notes
221
References
253
Acknowledgments
283
Index
285
Copyright

APPENDIX ONE Question WordingScales and Coding of Variables in Survey Analysis
211

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About the author (2002)

Taeku Lee is an assistant professor of public policy in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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