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Proximity, Politics and Policy Attitudes in the North American Context

Gravelle, Timothy B (2016) Proximity, Politics and Policy Attitudes in the North American Context. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

The study of mass public opinion and political behaviour has developed a substantial corpus of theoretical claims and empirical results linking political, attitudinal and demographic variables to different policy attitudes. Still, the research literature has, to date, paid scant attention to how space – that is, proximity and distance to salient geographic features – influences policy attitudes. Research in political behaviour has long proceeded as though policy attitudes among mass publics ‚come from nowhere.‛ The unifying argument of the four articles comprising this thesis is that mass public opinion does indeed come from somewhere: spatial dynamics matter for policy attitudes in a variety of domains. The articles develop the argument that spatial proximity to geographic features act as an indirect measure of intergroup contact, localized knowledge, issue awareness, and issue salience. The articles deal with three substantive topics: the Canada–United States relationship, attitudes toward energy transportation infrastructure, and attitudes toward immigration policy. Specifically, the thesis draws on survey data to investigate: (1) the mutual perceptions of the Canadian and American publics, (2) Canadian attitudes toward North American integration, (3) attitudes toward the Keystone XL pipeline in the United States, and (4) American attitudes toward illegal immigration. The major finding in each article is an interactive relationship between proximity and political attitudes: depending on the political context, proximity serves to either amplify or mute the effects of political party identification or ideology on policy attitudes. An innovative aspect of this research is the integration of spatial data through geocoding (appending latitude–longitude coordinates to) respondent-level data and calculating distances to relevant geographic features (e.g., the Canada–United States border, oil pipelines and the United States–Mexico border).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Timothy Gravelle
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2016 15:25
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2016 15:25
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/15930

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