A Troubled Birth: The 1930s and American Public Opinion

A Troubled Birth: The 1930s and American Public Opinion

by Susan Herbst
A Troubled Birth: The 1930s and American Public Opinion

A Troubled Birth: The 1930s and American Public Opinion

by Susan Herbst

Paperback(First Edition)

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Pollsters and pundits armed with the best public opinion polls failed to predict the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Is this because we no longer understand what the American public is? In A Troubled Birth, Susan Herbst argues that we need to return to earlier meanings of "public opinion" to understand our current climate.

Herbst contends that the idea that there was a public—whose opinions mattered—emerged during the Great Depression, with the diffusion of radio, the devastating impact of the economic collapse on so many people, the appearance of professional pollsters, and Franklin Roosevelt’s powerful rhetoric. She argues that public opinion about issues can only be seen as a messy mixture of culture, politics, and economics—in short, all the things that influence how people live. Herbst deftly pins down contours of public opinion in new ways and explores what endures and what doesn’t in the extraordinarily troubled, polarized, and hyper-mediated present. Before we can ask the most important questions about public opinion in American democracy today, we must reckon yet again with the politics and culture of the 1930s.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226813103
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/26/2021
Series: Chicago Studies in American Politics
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Susan Herbst is university professor of political science and president emeritus at the University of Connecticut. She is author of many books and articles including Rude Democracy: Civility and Incivility in America. She is coeditor of the Studies in American Politics series, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

1                Introduction: Birth of a Public
2                President in the Maelstrom: FDR as Public Opinion Theorist
3                Twisted Populism: Pollsters and Delusions of Citizenship
4                A Consuming Public: The Strange and Magnificent New York World’s Fair
5                Radio Embraces Race and Immigration, Awkwardly
6                Interlude: A Depression Needn’t Be So Depressing
7                Public Opinion and Its Problems: Some Ways Forward
Selected Bibliography
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