Is There a Rational Public?

Jørgen Bølstad has contributed with a chapter in the Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behavior and Public Opinion on how informed or uninformed the electorate appears to be and how rationally citizens respond to new information.

About the book

The study of elections, voting behavior and public opinion are arguably among the most prominent and intensively researched sub-fields within Political Science. It is an evolving sub-field, both in terms of theoretical focus and in particular, technical developments and has made a considerable impact on popular understanding of the core components of liberal democracies in terms of electoral systems and outcomes, changes in public opinion and the aggregation of interests. This handbook details the key developments and state of the art research across elections, voting behavior and the public opinion by providing both an advanced overview of each core area and engaging in debate about the relative merits of differing approaches in a comprehensive and accessible way. Bringing geographical scope and depth, with comparative chapters that draw on material from across the globe, it will be a key reference point both for advanced level students and researchers developing knowledge and producing new material in these sub-fields and beyond.

Is there a rational public?

If the average citizen were completely uninformed about politics and public policy, a fundamental condition for democracy as a form of government would appear to be missing. Yet existing scholarship is divided on the extent to which this very basic condition is fulfilled. A number of scholars working in this area can be identified as either optimists or pessimists, and their lines of work follow long traditions in democratic theory. This chapter presents an overview and discussion of the relevant literature. The chapter starts with a discussion of the political sophistication of individual citizens and moves on to the question of whether the citizenry as a collective is able to act as a rational guide for public policy.

Full info

Chapter  30: Is there a rational public?
Jørgen Bølstad

In: The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behavior and Public Opinion
Justin Fisher, Edward Fieldhouse, Mark N. Franklin, Rachel Gibson, Marta Cantijoch and Christopher Wlezien (eds)

Routledge, 2017
ISBN: 9781138890404

Published Nov. 28, 2017 2:30 PM - Last modified Nov. 29, 2017 8:14 AM