Many discussions, academic and otherwise, implicitly assume that public opinion changes because opinions change. This ignores the possibility that public opinion changes because publics change. In this paper I show how, by modifying existing component-difference methods, the proximate sources of societal change - actual individual change versus change in publics (turnover) - can be separated using repeated survey data. The method is applied to change in gender role attitudes in the United States, using 1972-1988 data from the General Social Surveys. Both components have contributed substantially to the trend away from traditional attitudes. Yet there is an important difference: Population turnover has contributed steadily to the trend, whereas the contribution of individual change has been erratic from survey to survey.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law