Theses Doctoral

Democratic Fault Lines Then and Now: An Exploration of Longstanding and Emerging Threats to the Fulfillment of Democratic Expectations by the American Mass Public

Platzman, Paul

Democratic theorists delineate several requirements for mass publics in democratic societies. These include holding policy preferences, deliberating over competing viewpoints, and making informed choices. This dissertation contributes to debates about the public’s performance in each of these areas.

In the first chapter, I argue that a statistical method that has been used to characterize the public’s ideological consistency has produced misleading results. In the second, I demonstrate that two aspects of Americans’ social networks differ in their relationships to important political attitudes necessary for productive deliberation. In the third, I show that Americans with politically diverse social networks trust more of the content they encounter on social media but are no more likely to discern truth from falsehood or respond to accuracy nudging interventions. In total, this dissertation employs analytical, observational, and experimental research methods to address questions that concern old and new threats to mass democratic behavior in the United States.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Shapiro, Robert Yale
Green, Donald P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 15, 2023