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Making Sense of Public Opinion: American Discourses about Immigration and Social Programs

Making Sense of Public Opinion: American Discourses about Immigration and Social Programs

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Claudia Strauss
Cambridge University Press, 10/15/2012
EAN 9781107019928, ISBN10: 1107019923

Hardcover, 439 pages, 22.9 x 15.7 x 3 cm
Language: English

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.

Part I. Overview
1. Conventional discourses, public opinion, and political culture
2. Analysis of conventional discourses
backgrounds and methods
3. Conventional discourses and personal lives
Part II. Immigration
4. Public opinion about immigration
5. 'Too many immigrants' and discourses about economic costs and benefits
6. Discourses about legality, illegality, and national security
7. Discourses about immigration and American culture
8. Discourses about immigration causes and contexts
Part III. Social Welfare Programs
9. Public opinion about social welfare programs
10. Discourses about limitations of government programs
11. Discourses about personal responsibility and benefits for the deserving
12. Discourses about caring for self, family, community, and nation
13. Discourses about social causes of economic insecurity
Part IV. Conclusion
14. Questions and implications.