Philip Converse and the Decisive Role of the Elites

“The broad contours of elite decisions over time can depend in a vital way upon currents in what is loosely called “the history of ideas.” These decisions in turn have effects upon the mass of more common citizens. But, of any direct participation in this history of ideas and the behavior it shapes, the mass is remarkably innocent.” (Philip Converse.  The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics, in Ideology and Discontent, p. 255; emphasis added)