Democracy requires that citizens' opinions play some role in shaping policy outcomes, including in foreign policy. Yet, although the literature on public opinion and foreign policy has made great progress in recent decades, scholars have reached no consensus concerning what the public thinks, or thinks about, with respect to foreign policy; how it comes to hold those opinions; or whether those opinions influence (or even should influence) foreign policy. In this article, we first review the extensive gains in scholarly knowledge in the area of public opinion and foreign policy over the past several decades, emphasizing relatively recent work. We then suggest a framework, based on the concept of market equilibrium, aimed at synthesizing the disparate research programs that constitute the literature on public opinion and foreign policy. To do so, in addition to considering the relationship between leaders and the public, we incorporate a third strategic actor, the mass media, which we believe plays a critical role alongside citizens and elites in shaping the public's attitudes about, and influence on, foreign policy. Our goal is to clarify the multifaceted relationships between these actors and foreign policy outcomes.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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