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Former CASBS Director Philip E. Converse, 1928-2014

Philip E. Converse, CASBS Director 1989-1994, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Michigan (Ph.D 1958), was a seminal figure in the field of public opinion research.

A political scientist with degrees in English, sociology, and social psychology, he was a CASBS Fellow in 1980.

The American Voter, a book he co-wrote in 1960, is considered a groundbreaking work, forever changing perceptions of political behavior: one of its primary, and controversial, themes was the assertion that most voters do not think in a sophisticated way about voting.

In this and other studies, he concludes that most American voters profess no clear ideology, and that voters don’t seek much information about an issue unless they believe it has a clear and immediate impact on their own lives.

Converse was born in Concord, New Hampshire, and earned his PhD from the University of Michigan. He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Science, and the American Philosophical Society.

Read this appreciation from the University of Michigan.

Explore an overview of some of his papers and a more detailed biography.

The New York Times Commemorates Converse:Prof. Philip E. Converse, Expert on How Voters Decide, Dies at 86

Related Article: A Phil Converse Tribute, By Former CASBS Associate Director Bob Scott

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