November 6, 2019
3:30 - 5:00 PM
Uris Hall Graduate Lounge, Room 388
Cornell University

Daniel DellaPosta  Assistant Professor of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University

Despite the widespread feeling that public opinion in the United States has become dramatically more politically polarized, empirical support for such a pattern has been surprisingly elusive. The study uses 44 years of data from the General Social Survey to represent opinions and attitudes across a wide array of domains as elements in an evolving belief network. Opinion polarization has increased through a process of belief consolidation, which entails the collapse of previously cross-cutting divisions to create increasingly broad and encompassing alignments in public opinion. Unlike previous studies of mass polarization, I find that political ideology and partisanship only partly explain this trend. The structure of American opinion has shifted in measurable and striking ways, with troubling implications for proponents of political and social pluralism.

Sponsored by the Economic Sociology Lab

Co-sponsored with the Center for the Study of Economy and Society