The annual meeting of the Georgia Political Science Association included a panel devoted to analyzing an East Georgia State College dean and professor’s recent book. The decision to organize a panel on a recently scholarly book at a professional meeting signifies the importance of the work, as well as the timeliness of the issues contained in the book. The professor, Dr. Lee Cheek, and his newly edited book, A Theory of Public Opinion, published by Transaction Books at Rutgers University, an internationally-respected publisher, was featured at the meeting. Dr. Cheek edited the volume, which surveys the limitations of public opinion research in today’s politics.
In support of the conference theme "The Relevancy of Political Science?," this panel examined the relationship between political theory and the study of public opinion, as well analyzing the tension between these two “subdisciplines” of political science in contemporary scholarship.
As the basis for the panelists’ comments, the relevance of the study, A Theory of Public Opinion, was surveyed, which is perhaps the last major reappraisal of theory’s potential contribution to understanding public opinion, as well as a novel critique of the academic study of public opinion.
Panelists traced the emergence of the ideas and institutions that evolved to give people mastery over their own destiny through the force of public opinion. The Greek belief in citizen participation, for example, was described as the ground upon which the idea of public opinion began and upon which it grew. Cheek’s argument that public opinion is always an "orderly force," contributing to social and political life, was critiqued, especially in light of the Election of 2016.
The annual meeting of the Georgia Political Science Association took place from November 10-12 in Savannah, Ga. The panel also included Professor Hans E. Schmeisser (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Professor Daniel Mancill (East Georgia State College), Dr. Craig Albert (Augusta University), Dr. James LaPlant (Valdosta State University), and Dr. Brett Larson (East Georgia State College). EGSC’s Dr. Tom Caiazzo and Professor Randy Carter also provided commentary on the book at the conference.
Dr. Cheek is the Dean of the Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science and History at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro, Ga. His many publications include Calhoun and Popular Rule (2001) and Order and Legitimacy (2004).