There is increasing attention to the mass public in the politics of trade debate, yet we still know little about how Americans formulate opinion on trade. Scholars are puzzled by the ineffectiveness of traditional dispositional beliefs to account for trade policy judgment, while an emerging economic self-interest perspective contends that opinion on trade is based on material concerns. This article demonstrates how symbolic predispositions provide critical information shortcuts for Americans on trade in which the relationship between trade policy and economic self-interest may be unclear. Symbolic politics theory explains how citizens can rely on accessible symbolic predispositions, including conceptions of national identity, in an unfamiliar and evolving trade policy environment often subject to multiple and conflicting cues, limited political information, and changing economic circumstances.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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