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How Cultural Orientations Create Shifting National Security Coalitions on Nuclear Weapons and Terrorist Threats in the American Public

  • Joseph T. Ripberger (a1), Hank C. Jenkins-Smith (a1) and Kerry G. Herron (a1)


Scholars have used cultural theory (CT) to explain risk perceptions and opinion formation across an impressive array of public issues, ranging from environmental, regulatory, and energy policy to public health and economics. Although disparate, all these issues concern domestic policies. This article breaks with this trend by exploring the extent to which CT can help scholars better understand public beliefs about national security. Of critical importance in debates about national security are perceptions of individual versus collective threat and the appropriate role of authoritative institutions in protecting society from these threats. Because CT provides a framework that explicitly addresses these dimensions, national security issues provide an illuminating canvas for evaluating the theory's explanatory utility.



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