Cairo University

School of Economics and Political Science

Department of Political Science

Fourth Grade, English Section

 

Public Opinion and Mass Media

Dr. Amany Massoud

Dr. Moataz Abdel Fattah

 

 

 This course examines topics related to the study of the mass media (i.e., the press/news media) and the public opinion of citizens in democracies and non-democracies. It also introduces students to the methods of research used in the examination of these two aspects of modern political systems (e.g., "content analysis" and public opinion polling and data analysis), including the use of SPSS.

A. OBJECTIVES

At its core, this class is about encouraging you to think about mass media and public opinion  in an analytical way. This will include reading about the mass media and public opinion questions that other researchers have considered, and using these to develop theoretical questions that interest you. In particular, a major component of the class will involve teaching you how to analyze mass media material and how to measure public attitudes. To do that, we will have to do some reading of published research on mass media and public opinion and their character, and then critiquing the arguments raised in these scholarly works. These assignments are intended to encourage both analytical thinking as well as critical writing, while also highlighting the questions and approaches used in research on political behavior.

B. EXPECTATIONS

The class will primarily be lecture format, but you are encouraged to raise questions at any point in the lecture, including matters of clarification, theoretical points, or topics to address in class discussion.

The reading assignments are a core part of the class   – to build a working knowledge of the character of    public opinion , and also to encourage you to ask questions, develop theories, and think about explanations for political phenomena. Keeping up with assigned readings is important. Ideally, you are expected to complete readings listed for a given day before the scheduled class meeting. However, late better than never.

You are also expected to maintain proper classroom etiquette. This includes respecting the opinions of others even if you disagree, not talking out of turn, putting away newspapers and crossword puzzles during lecture, turning off cell phones before class, and not disrupting the class if arriving late.

C. CONTENTS OF THE COURSE

1-      Mass media: Sustentative discussion of media’s role in society

Readings:

Wm. David Salon el al.

Mass Communication and Politics (ch. 4)

Law of Mass Communication: Balancing Freedom with Responsibility (ch. 19)

Media and Society (ch. 23)

* General Information on Egyptian Mass Media

* Freedom of Press in Egypt: The 93 Law of 1996 Case study: 1, 2, 3 (Arabic).

* Impact of media on democratization in the Arab World: 1

 

2. Method of Media Analysis and Public Opinion Polling:

David Beacon et al., Researching Communications, London: Arnold, 1999.

Chapters: 2 (Dealing with documentation,) 2 (Counting contents), 7 (Analyzing texts), 9 (Viewing the image), 10 (Interpreting images), 14 (Using Computers).

To read more about content analysis.

 

3. Public opinion.

A. Definition and Philosophy of Public Opinion

1.      An Introduction to Public Opinion (Motters and Quisay):.

2.      The Nature of Public Opinion, (James Bryce)

3.      Public Opinion and Majority Government (Lawrence Lowell)

4.      Some Definitions of Public Opinion (Ulrich Strauss).

5.      Toward A Science of Public Opinion (Floyd Allport).

6.      Comments on the Nature of Public Opinion (Kimball Young):

B. Political Dimensions of Public Opinion

7.      Domestic Constraints: Governmental Structure and the Role of Public Opinion.

8.      Does the Government Have the Right to Lie?

9.      Public Opinion Mechanisms among Primitive Peoples (Margrate Mead) .

10.  Social Determinants of Public Opinion, (Alfred Lee).

11.  Information Processing and Public Opinion (Charles Taber)

 

D. MID-TERM ACTIVITIES (10 points out of 30):

1-     Project (8 points):

Content Analysis

Content Analysis

Content Analysis

Opinion Polling

Opinion Polling

Independent media

Governmental media

Opposition media

CU students

Students’ relatives

Each student should submit the content analysis of 10 articles and conduct opinion questionnaires of 10 persons.

2- Attendance and participation (2 points)

 

E. Details on the Project.  

Listen to Dr. Moataz's lecture on Content Analysis of Egyptian Intellectual Positions pertaining to Legislative Elections and the Future of Democracy in Egypt.

 

For the content analysis: Download this word sheet (Right-Click and save as on your hard drive)

For the opinion poll: Download this word sheet (Right-Click and save as on your hard drive).

Excel Sheet for entering content analysis and opinion poll results.

 

NOTE:  The scientific method entails:

  1. Select problem

  2.  Identify & state theory

  3.  Define terms

  4.  Create testable hypothesis

  5.  Operationalize variables

  6.  Independent variables (causes)

  7.  Dependent variables (effects)

  8.  Identify and sample population

  9.  Empirical observation (collect data)

  10.  Analyze data