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Enemies old and new: Foreign policy, the media and public opinion in the Reagan/Bush era

Andrew David Ruddock, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This project sets out to show how quantitative research methods can be used to address important questions in critical/cultural theory. Traditionally, researchers in the field of cultural studies have rejected statistical modes of inquiry that are deemed incapable of dealing with the intricacies of language and ideology. This view, however, is based upon a misreading of the postmodern directive toward skepticism of "scientific" research and the mistaken view that quantitative methodologies imply allegiance to hegemonic ideological positions. Using data collected by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, I show how surveys can be used to resist many pervasive beliefs about US foreign policy and the role of the media in the cultivation of pubic opinion. This data can be manipulated to show, among other things, that despite the end of the Soviet Empire, elite and public circles alike continue to generally agree that the US should maintain an active role in world politics; that media professionals are not anti-establishment, often echoing opinions originating in government circles, and that greater levels of attention to the news media are consistent with greater support for the foreign policy initiatives of the day. Moreover, this information can be used to contextualize qualitative research projects using focus groups. Centering on the reception of coverage of the 1994 "intervasion" in Haiti, I show how the limitations placed on the audience's power to think critically about what they see can be explained by the broader attitudinal dynamics displayed in the Chicago data.

Subject Area

Mass media|International law|International relations|American history

Recommended Citation

Ruddock, Andrew David, "Enemies old and new: Foreign policy, the media and public opinion in the Reagan/Bush era" (1995). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9541147.