Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: How the Few Persuade the Many: Overcoming Marginality in the Fight for Public Opinion
Authors: Medenica, Vladimir Enrique
Advisors: Strolovitch, Dara Z
Contributors: Politics Department
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation seeks to expand scholarly understanding of one overarching question: How do minority groups effectively appeal to majority opinion and gain support for their issue positions? I attempt to answer this through a mixed-methods examination of the United Farm Worker’s (UFW) labor movement, the fight against restrictive voter identification laws, and changing attitudes on same-sex marriage. In doing so, I offer insight into why American society has witnessed substantial progress on issues fraught with conflict and controversy, often in a historical eye blink and, almost by definition, at some non-zero cost to the majority group. The empirical work of this project begins in Chapter 2 with a content analysis of the UFW’s campaign to boycott agricultural products. By analyzing and comparing English- and Spanish-language publications, I find that the UFW strategically altered their message framing when appealing to distinct target audiences, highlighting their connection to the American labor force in English-language media while emphasizing their quest for social justice in Spanish-language appeals. In Chapter 3, I evaluate variation in messaging impact based on the identity of the messenger. Using voter identification laws as the policy area of interest, I analyze data from an original online survey experiment testing whether white voters express variation in support for voter identification laws when exposed to an advocacy group associated with varying racial groups. Findings point to the importance of advocacy in shaping opinion for all voters in the sample and indicate heterogeneous treatment effects by partisanship on both issue support and group perceptions, with Republicans less likely to shift in opinion than Democrats and Independents. In Chapter 4, I decompose the aggregate trend in attitudes on same-sex marriage from 1988-2014 into estimates of cohort replacement and intra-cohort conversion. While 27% of attitude change is attributable to cohort replacement, over 70% is due to individual-level opinion change. I then examine other attitudinal measures and offer hypotheses for why individuals change their minds. Finally, Chapter 5 offers a brief discussion of how the three chapters and their key takeaways relate to one another and the discipline of political science before offering potential directions for future work.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Medenica_princeton_0181D_12096.pdf1.68 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.