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Ways of Knowing 2020

This event has been canceled!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Student Center, Room 313/315

11th Annual Ways of Knowing

Public Opinion and the Fracturing of Democracy


Allyson Robichaud, Interim Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences


Qingshan Tan, Political Science Department

Richard M. Perloff, School of Communication

Qingshan Tan

Public Opinion on Social Justice in China

China’s rise has not only propelled China to be the second-largest economy in the world but also produced an increasing socioeconomic inequality that undermines the legitimacy of the socialist political system. What do people think of social inequality and social justice? To understand public attitudes towards the issue of social justice, this talk uses a general survey of public opinion and social justice to analyze how people look at social justice in China.  Our research shows that people tend to use their subjective belief system to view social justice. We find that overall public opinion focuses more on distributional justice and less than processes and procedures. We also find there is an increasing minority of socioeconomic groups who began to pay more attention to policy-making processes and justice procedures. This finding may have an important implication for policymaking as the Chinese government seeks to reduce social instability.

Richard M. Perloff

The Psychology of Biased Perceptions of News: Why, When, and With What Toxic Anti-Democratic Effects Partisans Perceive the News to be Hostile to Their Political Tribe

Media bias. When people read these words, they usually think of cases where news offered a skewed view of reality (think Fox News or MSNBC). But the more provocative question is frequently how we perceive bias in the news -- and the psychologically pervasive tendency of strong partisans to presume that news is biased against their political position and to presume it will sway public opinion against their side. Drawing on my scholarship over the past three decades, as well as a recent sabbatical, I discuss the knowledge base on the social psychological and communication concept known as the hostile media bias. I articulate moderators and psychological mediators of perceptions that the media are hostile to “my side,” complicating issues, and implications in an age of social media and troubling erosion of democratic norms.