Knowledge, Sophistication, and Issue Publics

Vincent Hutchings, Spencer Piston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

3 Scopus citations


This chapter investigates the level of political information in America. It begins with a review of relevant research, in which it shows that American citizens have surprisingly low levels of general knowledge when compared to political elites or to citizens from other Western countries. The chapter then discusses how the current measures of refining political knowledge may be improved, and reviews literature on ideological sophistication. The next section studies scholars' contention that Americans are not only ignorant but also not ideologically sophisticated. Finally, the chapter discusses research on issue publics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of American Public Opinion and the Media
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191728389
ISBN (Print)9780199545636
StatePublished - May 19 2011


  • American citizens
  • Ideological sophistication
  • Issue publics
  • Political elites
  • Political information
  • Political knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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