Citizen Competence and Democratic Governance
Competing traditions in public opinion scholarship offer strikingly divergent understandings of the role citizens can and do play in democratic governance. Some scholars argue that most citizens are poor decision makers who are woefully uninformed and easily manipulated. Others believe that public opinion is “rational” and that public preferences are a sensible guide to democratic policymaking. In this work-in-progress, I assess citizens’ shortcomings as democratic subjects as well as the mechanisms that can help remediate those shortcomings.
Martin Gilens is Professor of Public Policy at UCLA. His research examines representation, public opinion, and mass media, especially in relation to inequality and public policy. He has published widely on political inequality, mass media, race, gender, and welfare politics. He earned a Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and the Russell Sage Foundation. Professor Gilens is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and taught at Yale and Princeton universities before joining the Luskin School at UCLA in 2018.
*Political Institutions and Political Economy