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The promiscuous public? Exploring public opinion and why it matters to political actors

Soo, Nikki, Anderson, Alexandra and Heywood-Heath, Charlie 2021. The promiscuous public? Exploring public opinion and why it matters to political actors. Politics 10.1177/02633957211007706

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Political actors often cite public opinion to provide support for public policy decisions. This process is made more challenging with diverse demands and perspectives of the public. How then do political actors decide which opinion gets heard? In this article, we go beyond the assumption that the practice of political representation is indistinguishable across various levels of political actors and ask, why do political actors value public opinion and how does it then influence the way in which they apply this information? Developing a multi-level approach, we employ semi-structured interviews with a wide range of political actors, including politicians, pollsters, and community activists. We find that motivations for defining and applying public opinion differs according to the hierarchy of political actors, demonstrating that the relationship between public and political actors is more nuanced and complex than what is often depicted. In particular, we find that minority views play just an important view in policymaking.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Political Studies Association
ISSN: 0263-3957
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 August 2021
Date of Acceptance: 2 October 2020
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2021 07:37

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