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Title:Do Presidents Lead or Follow the Public? Using Evidence From Rhetoric to Assess Presidential Strategy
Author(s):Cunion, William E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Paul J. Quirk
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Political Science, General
Abstract:I seek to address a fundamental question about the contemporary presidency: Do presidents lead public opinion, or do they mainly follow it? The question is difficult to examine systematically, partly because it is problematic to compare presidential policies with poll results systematically. Additionally, most have approached this question using a very narrow conception of public opinion. The proposal here is for an approach to address the question by relying solely on a content analysis of presidential rhetoric. My thesis is that public leadership can be gauged by analyzing the content of what the president says in his public addresses. Instead of analyzing polls, and presidents' responses to them, I employ a method of characterizing the strategies of speeches on the basis of a content analysis of the speech alone. These speeches are coded for features of rhetoric that reveal efforts to move opinion against resistance: acknowledgement of public fears or opposition, recognition of costs or risks, mentions of objections or counter-arguments, references to support from experts, elaboration of causal claims, and appeals to duty. Conceptually, this approach will bring us closer to identifying public leadership, as it is built upon a model of public opinion that emphasizes the process of communication between elites and masses. The result is a new tool for examining the conditions under which leadership is more or less likely to occur.
Issue Date:2003
Type:Text
Language:English
Description:168 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/82560
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3101822
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2003


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