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Good Enough for Government WorkThe Public Reputation Crisis in America (And What We Can Do to Fix It)$
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Amy E. Lerman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226630175

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226630342.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 24 November 2020

The Public Reputation Crisis

The Public Reputation Crisis

Chapter:
(p.3) One The Public Reputation Crisis
Source:
Good Enough for Government Work
Author(s):

Amy E. Lerman

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226630342.003.0001

This chapter provides an overview of the central argument of the book: that American government is in the midst of a reputation crisis. Like reputation crises in the private sector, a public reputation crisis has three defining characteristics. First, large swaths of people come to hold predominantly negative perceptions of government. These beliefs are widespread enough that they become “common knowledge” and exist as shared understandings among citizens. Second, negative perceptions are highly resistant to change. Even in the face of new information about the cost, quality, or effectiveness of government, beliefs about government persist. Third, those who hold particularly negative perceptions begin to “opt out.” That is, when given the opportunity, individuals who believe government is wasteful and inefficient will choose to move from public services to private alternatives, when feasible. And when sufficient numbers of people opt out of public services, the result can be a decline in the objective quality of public provision, with consequences for the public good.

Keywords:   Public opinion, privatization, reputation crisis, motivated reasoning, confirmation bias

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