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Exceptional times can open doors for significant, transformative change, causing shifts in public opinion that otherwise would not have happened. The Wall Street Crash, the Eurozone Crisis, the Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict and forced migration, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine all represent significant periods of volatility that have preference-shaping effects. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, brought about a number of social, political, and economic repercussions. Research has demonstrated that the pandemic affected public attitudes on issues such as political trust and satisfaction with democracy and altered electoral participation and voting behaviour. The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has also revealed how exceptional events can lead to substantial changes in public opinion.

Empirical research on public opinion from economic, political and local crisis events has demonstrated that exposure to crisis-induced insecurity can cause a conservative reflex. It has also been shown that once the source of insecurity is eliminated, the public preferences tend to converge back to the pre-crisis median position. Yet, the empirical evidence on these questions remains mixed and there is only a limited understanding as to how factors such as the scale, temporal horizon, and intensity of crisis can moderate updates in individual-level attitudes. Moreover, and in a world of increasing state interdependence, variation in the source of the crisis – both objective and perceived – may condition the type of values and attitudes affected.

This Research Topic centers around two critical challenges for the scholarship on public opinion in exceptional times. First, we need to understand public opinion shifts and the stability of these shifts during and after exceptional events. Second, it is necessary to distinguish the short and long-term effects of crises on public values and attitudes, and democracy. We are interested in receiving contributions that cover issues that include (but are not limited to) such as:
• How likely are opinion changes during crises to persist over time and to generalize to other issues?
• How do global and local crises differ in their effect on public opinion and democracy?
• Do incumbents fall or flourish from exceptional times?
• What is the relationship between crisis and populism?
• Born in crisis: are individuals socialised during times of crisis different from those socialised in times of stability?
• How do blame attribution and/or issue responsibility shape opinion-formation in exceptional times?
• Are responses to crises gendered?
• Does exposure to successive crises cause symmetrical shifts in opinions?
• What matters more: the entry or exit from a crisis?
• Do exceptional times and the "high stakes" status of crisis affect: i) political efficacy, ii) perceptions of state responsiveness, iii) perceived institutional legitimacy?

Original manuscripts using some of the following methodological approaches are especially welcome:
• Experimental and quasi-experimental methods
• Econometric methods
• Panel data approaches
• Text-as-data approaches
• Formal modeling
• Historical comparisons

Scholars whose research relies on multiple cross-national cases or data from the Global South are particularly encouraged to submit their work.

Keywords: public opinion, crisis, electoral participation, voting behaviour, populism, responses to crisis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Exceptional times can open doors for significant, transformative change, causing shifts in public opinion that otherwise would not have happened. The Wall Street Crash, the Eurozone Crisis, the Arab Spring, the Syrian conflict and forced migration, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine all represent significant periods of volatility that have preference-shaping effects. The COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, brought about a number of social, political, and economic repercussions. Research has demonstrated that the pandemic affected public attitudes on issues such as political trust and satisfaction with democracy and altered electoral participation and voting behaviour. The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine has also revealed how exceptional events can lead to substantial changes in public opinion.

Empirical research on public opinion from economic, political and local crisis events has demonstrated that exposure to crisis-induced insecurity can cause a conservative reflex. It has also been shown that once the source of insecurity is eliminated, the public preferences tend to converge back to the pre-crisis median position. Yet, the empirical evidence on these questions remains mixed and there is only a limited understanding as to how factors such as the scale, temporal horizon, and intensity of crisis can moderate updates in individual-level attitudes. Moreover, and in a world of increasing state interdependence, variation in the source of the crisis – both objective and perceived – may condition the type of values and attitudes affected.

This Research Topic centers around two critical challenges for the scholarship on public opinion in exceptional times. First, we need to understand public opinion shifts and the stability of these shifts during and after exceptional events. Second, it is necessary to distinguish the short and long-term effects of crises on public values and attitudes, and democracy. We are interested in receiving contributions that cover issues that include (but are not limited to) such as:
• How likely are opinion changes during crises to persist over time and to generalize to other issues?
• How do global and local crises differ in their effect on public opinion and democracy?
• Do incumbents fall or flourish from exceptional times?
• What is the relationship between crisis and populism?
• Born in crisis: are individuals socialised during times of crisis different from those socialised in times of stability?
• How do blame attribution and/or issue responsibility shape opinion-formation in exceptional times?
• Are responses to crises gendered?
• Does exposure to successive crises cause symmetrical shifts in opinions?
• What matters more: the entry or exit from a crisis?
• Do exceptional times and the "high stakes" status of crisis affect: i) political efficacy, ii) perceptions of state responsiveness, iii) perceived institutional legitimacy?

Original manuscripts using some of the following methodological approaches are especially welcome:
• Experimental and quasi-experimental methods
• Econometric methods
• Panel data approaches
• Text-as-data approaches
• Formal modeling
• Historical comparisons

Scholars whose research relies on multiple cross-national cases or data from the Global South are particularly encouraged to submit their work.

Keywords: public opinion, crisis, electoral participation, voting behaviour, populism, responses to crisis


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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