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Facing the Challenge of DemocracyExplorations in the Analysis of Public Opinion and Political Participation$
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Paul M. Sniderman and Benjamin Highton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151106

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151106.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 02 August 2021

How Do Political Scientists Know What Citizens Want?

How Do Political Scientists Know What Citizens Want?

An Essay on Theory and Measurement

(p.23) I How Do Political Scientists Know What Citizens Want?
Facing the Challenge of Democracy

Arthur Lupia

Princeton University Press

This chapter sets out a paradox: in politics, citizens must sometimes make inconsistent choices in order, ultimately, to have made a consistent one. It examines this paradox to bring out how the preferences of citizens may appear fickle and incoherent because of measurement error. This is done by looking at how many political scientists conceptualize and measure what citizens want. The chapter then contends that we can improve our current conceptualization and measurement of citizen preferences. It further argues that progress can come from paying greater attention to how two factors, institutions and cognition, affect preferences. In examining the effect of institutions, the chapter maintains that many scholarly claims about what citizens should want ignore the moderating effect of institutions.

Keywords:   political consistency, political scientists, citizen preferences, institutions, cognition, institution-free approach

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