Americans and Politics

What do Americans really know?

Uninformed : why people seem to know so little about politics and what we can do about it

Lupia, Arthur. Oxford, 2017
343p bibl index, 9780190263720, 9780190659936 $29.95, 9780190263737

uninformed book cover

Many worry that Americans are not sufficiently knowledgeable to constitute an informed electorate. Such critics usually cite Americans inability to recall the name of the vice president or the number of representatives. Lupia (Univ. of Michigan) suggests that these concerns derive from a misunderstanding of what citizens actually need to know for civic competence. His goal in writing the book is to support community leaders in educating the citizenry about important issues. It is too easy for public educators to assume that audiences will naturally be engaged because a specific piece of political information is important. But Lupia argues that educators need to connect the information to the core concerns of those they want to inform. In addition, listeners are most likely to absorb content that they perceive as personally beneficial. An informed electorate depends on public educators—political and group leaders who are invested in providing the information that the public needs to make informed decisions. This book fills a void in explaining how such leaders can best support civic competence. In addition, for scholars it provides an important critique of previous attempts to measure political knowledge.

Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals.
Reviewer: T. Marchant-Shapiro, Southern Connecticut State University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Oct 2017