Mutz, Diana C. 1962-
Mutz, Diana C. 1962-
Mutz, Diana C. 1962-
Born 1962. Education: Northwestern University, B.S., 1984; Stanford University, M.A., 1985, Ph.D., 1988.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, assistant professor, 1988-1994, associate professor of political science, 1994-99; Ohio State University, Columbus, professor of political science, journalism, and mass communications, 1999-2003; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Samuel A. Stouffer professor of political science and communication, 2003—, director, Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 2003—. Former editor, Political Behavior.
Nafziger-White Dissertation Award, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, 1989; Ithiel de sola Pool Award for best paper dealing with political communication, American Political Science Association, 1991; Romnes Research Fellowship Award, 1998; Robert Lane Award for Best Book in Political Psychology, American Political Science Association, 1999, for Impersonal Influence: How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes; Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences fellowship, 1999-2000; Doris Graber Prize for Most Influential Book on Political Communication published in the last ten years, 2004, for Impersonal Influence.
Contributor to Reasoning and Choice: Explorations in Political Psychology, edited by P.M. Sniderman, R.A. Brody, and P.E. Tetlock, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1992. Contributor to academic journals, including American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Politics, and Journal of Communication.
Political scientist Diana C. Mutz is the author or coeditor of several studies on the political process in the United States, including Political Persuasion and Attitude Change, Impersonal Influence: How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes, and Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy. These works examine questions about the ways in which a republic reliant on democratic principles can continue to function in an era where the methods of communication are changing so rapidly.
Political Persuasion and Attitude Change examines the vital role that political discussion and discourse plays in American democracy. Mutz edited the book with Paul M. Sniderman, and Richard A. Brody; the work divides the sources of persuasion into three basic groups: the media, the political elites, and the voting public. "Although [Mutz and her fellow editors] do not attempt to divorce political persuasion from the field of persuasion and attitude change in general," declared Salma I. Ghanem in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, "they argue that because of its unique characteristics, political persuasion should receive separate attention." "The complexities of political persuasion are evident through the ten chapters contributed by the authors," Ghanem continued. "These articles offer rich literature reviews and the latest research findings, as well as present methodological and theoretical issues for consideration and suggestions for new approaches." Mutz's own contribution to the volume falls into the third section. She argues that "voters are more influenced by their perceptions of economic prosperity on the national level than of their own family's prosperity," reported William J. McGuire in the Public Opinion Quarterly, "with neighborhood's perceived prosperity having an intermediate impact." "This cosmopolitanism," McGuire concluded, "is most pronounced in voters with high levels of political information … inviting cross-fertilization."
The award-winning study Impersonal Influence discusses the ways in which mass media help create political opinion as well as political awareness. The problem is central to a large country trying to run its government on democratic principles, the question being how can individual voters get the information they need to make informed decisions about their government and the people who represent them. Mutz suggests that the mass media has much more sway over public opinion than do competing methods of sharing viewpoints, such as word-of-mouth. She also suggests that the overwhelming prevalence of mass media is, surprisingly, not necessarily destructive to democracy. "The impact she describes is due to media content that informs audiences of the experiences and opinions of mass collectives," stated Robert L. Savage in Perspectives on Political Science. "Although she admits that information about such generalized others may come through interpersonal relations, she cogently argues that more of it comes through mass media and that the mass media's information is generally more objective and systematic."
In Hearing the Other Side, Mutz considers still another question related to American political society. She ponders why American democracy is so stable when other democracies in the world are often vulnerable to military coups, social violence, and repressive governmental actions. In particular, she investigates how the United States continues to function when only a minority of qualified voters participate in any given election. "The principal thesis of this book," explained Scott D. McClurg in the Public Opinion Quarterly, "is that deliberative democracy is at odds with participatory democracy, at least from the perspective of individual citizens and their social surroundings." Mutz's answer is that discussion in a public arena is central to democracy as practiced in America.
The concept of deliberative democracy was introduced by Joseph M. Bessette in his 1980 study, Deliberative Democracy: The Majority Principle in Republican Government and expanded four years later in The Mild Voice of Reason: Deliberative Democracy & American National Government. "Distinguishing herself from other work in this area," McClurg continued, "Mutz focuses on what she calls cross-cutting political talk, defined as the level of disagreement people experience in their core interpersonal networks. While falling far short of what theorists call the ‘ideal deliberative setting’ and being distinct from deliberative polls, this definition has the great virtue of reflecting naturally occurring situations with the potential to broadly influence political behavior. This puts Mutz in a position to theorize and test how deliberation in practice affects different elements of political behavior." McClurg concluded that Hearing the Other Side is a "must-read" for all people interested in the ways political opinion is communicated through social networking, how people think about their government, and how the American political process works.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, March, 2000, Lynn M. Sanders, review of Impersonal Influence: How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes, p. 1478; July, 2007, Marc Garcelon, review of Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy, p. 290.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 1997, review of Political Persuasion and Attitude Change, p. 787; December, 2006, R.E. O'Connor, review of Hearing the Other Side, p. 719.
International Journal of Public Opinion Research, summer, 1997, Salma I. Ghanem, review of Political Persuasion and Attitude Change.
Journal of Communication, spring, 1998, Robert O. Wyatt, review of Political Persuasion and Attitude Change; spring, 2000, review of Impersonal Influence.
Perspectives on Political Science, winter, 2000, Robert L. Savage, review of Impersonal Influence, p. 57.
Political Science Quarterly, fall, 2007, Benjamin I. Page, review of Hearing the Other Side.
Public Opinion Quarterly, summer, 1998, William J. McGuire, review of Political Persuasion and Attitude Change; summer, 2000, Michael G. Hagen, review of Impersonal Influence; summer, 2007, Scott D. McClurg, review of Hearing the Other Side.
University of Pennsylvania Department of Political Science Web site,http://www.polisci.upenn.edu/ (February 6, 2008), faculty profile of Diana C. Mutz.