Making Sense of Public Opinion
Questions about immigration and social welfare programs raise the central issues of who belongs to a society and what its members deserve. Yet the opinions of the American public about these important issues seem contradictory and confused. Claudia Strauss explains why: public opinion on these issues and many others is formed not from liberal or conservative ideologies but from diverse vernacular discourses that may not fit standard ideologies but are easy to remember and repeat. Drawing on interviews with people from various backgrounds, Strauss identifies and describes 59 conventional discourses about immigration and social welfare and demonstrates how we acquire conventional discourses from our opinion communities. Making Sense of Public Opinion: American Discourses about Immigration and Social Programs explains what conventional discourses are, how to study them, and why they are fundamental elements of public opinion and political culture.