The Sometime Connection

Public Opinion and Social Policy

By Elaine B. Sharp

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Urban Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791442968, 289 pages, September 1999
Hardcover : 9780791442951, 289 pages, September 1999

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Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures

1. Public Policy and Public Opinion: The Elusive Connection

2. Imprisonment and Public Opinion: The Broken Thermostat

3. Affirmative Action: A Downsian Sequence

4. The Regulation of Pornography: Policy Change and Non-Attitudes

5. Abortion: Strident Controversy and Policy Responsiveness

6. Welfare: Symbols and Substance of Policy Responsiveness

7. Social Security: Promises They Can't Deliver

8. Public Opinion and Social Policy Change: Sequences and Contingencies




Explores the role that public opinion plays in the development of social policy in the United States.


CHOICE2000 Outstanding Academic Title

The Sometime Connection introduces a variety of theoretical perspectives on the connection between public opinion and policy and applies them to six social policy topics: abortion, affirmative action, welfare, Social Security, corrections, and pornography. The book provides complete policy histories, information on trends in public opinion, and a diagnosis of the role that public opinion has played in the development of policy for each of the six topics discussed.

Elaine B. Sharp is Professor of Political Science at the University of Kansas. She is the author of several books, including Culture Wars and City Politics; The Dilemma of Drug Policy; Urban Politics and Administration; and Citizen Demand-Making in the Urban Context.


"…excellent … The Sometime Connection seems likely to be an agenda-setting work that will provide the basis for innumerable articles and dissertations in the years to come. It is the first component of a continuing conversation, well begun but far from completed." — American Political Science Review

"…excellent … The book is extremely well argued, theoretically engaged, and empirically grounded. Highly recommended for all audiences." — CHOICE

"A key contribution of The Sometime Connection is the recognition of the limitations of contemporary models of representation that blindly assume the empirical validity of either the responsiveness of political elites to public pressures or the manipulation of the mass public by public officials. Sharp argues persuasively that a variety of factors influence the nature of the representational process and hence lead to different outcomes under different contexts and contingencies. She also offers a series of fascinating case studies that illustrate the variations of responsiveness, or lack thereof, of public policy to public preferences. The first chapter, designed to organize these case studies, offers a comprehensive theoretical picture that can overlay the wide variety of inconsistent single policy research findings published in the discipline over the last several decades. As such the book offers a template for past and future policy researchers." — John P. McIver, University of Colorado

"The Sometime Connection sheds light on the dynamic interrelationships between opinion and policy across domains, something that political scientists are only beginning to explore systematically." — Christopher Wlezien, University of Houston