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Upcoming Events in the Department of Political Science

"The importance of knowing 'What goes with what': Reinterpreting the evidence on policy attitude stability."

Gabriel Lenz, an associate professor of political science at UC Berkeley, revisits the debate over what share of citizens hold meaningful views about public policy.

Feb 22, 2019
from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM

Kerr 693

Abstract: What share of citizens hold meaningful views about public policy? Despite decades of scholarship, researchers have failed to reach a consensus. Researchers agree that policy opinions in surveys are unstable but disagree about whether that instability is real or just measurement error. In this paper, we revisit this debate with a concept neglected in the literature: knowledge of which issue positions “go together” ideologically— or what Converse (1964) called knowledge of "what goes with what." Using surveys spanning decades in the US and the UK, we find that individuals hold stable views primarily when they possess this knowledge and agree with their party. These results imply that observed opinion instability arises not primarily from measurement error, but from instability in the opinions themselves. We find many US citizens lack knowledge of “what goes with what” and that only about 20-40 percent hold stable views on many policy issues.

Gabriel Lenz is an associate professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He studies democratic accountability, focusing on how to help voters hold their politicians accountable. He wrote "Follow the Leader" (University of Chicago Press, 2012), and his articles appear in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis, and other journals.



Sinopoli Memorial Speaker: Ronald Beiner

Ronald Beiner gives a talk, "Dangerous minds in dangerous times"

Apr 12, 2019
from 03:00 PM to 04:30 PM

Kerr Hall 693

Abstract: We liberals tend to assume that liberal education promotes liberalism. Is this a form of liberal complacency in need of serious reconsideration in the wake of jolts to liberal-democratic self-understanding administered by the rise of right-wing populism (including Trumpism and Bannonism)? The contemporary alt-right has its own intellectuals, who very much pride themselves on being an intellectual vanguard. There is a far-right canon, which, somewhat alarmingly, overlaps with the established canon within mainstream philosophy and political theory. In "Dangerous Minds," I quote a book review on a far-right website that offers the following list of intellectual beacons for the alt-right: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, and Alexander Dugin. It’s quite striking that the first three thinkers on this list have also been warmly embraced by the academic left. Don’t we need to start giving serious attention to how some of our favorite authors are being read by the far right, rather than naively assuming that they are essentially resources for progressive and egalitarian politics?

Ronald Beiner is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His books include "Political Judgment" (1983); "What's the Matter with Liberalism?" (1992); "Philosophy in a Time of Lost Spirit" (1997); "Liberalism, Nationalism, Citizenship" (2003); "Civil Religion" (2011); "Political Philosophy: What It Is and Why It Matters" (2014); and "Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right" (2018). He is also the editor of Hannah Arendt's "Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy" (1982).