Drones and American Domestic Policy: An Analysis of Elite and Mass Opinion
Researchers have primarily focused on the use of drones for military purposes. Yet, understanding how the use of drones influences domestic policymaking from the perspective of mass and elite opinion was generally absent from the academic literature. The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore and describe the perceptions of policy elites and the mass public on the impact of drone use on domestic policy. Guided by Donohue, Tichenor and Olien's theories of media framing and salience, mass opinion was measured through a convenience sample via the Walden Participant Pool, whereas elite opinion was measured through a purposive sampling design that targeted policy elites that are expects on drone policy, including academics and individuals working for the RAND Corporation, American Civil Liberties Union, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Department of Defense. Sampling produced 108 respondents from the Participant Pool and 5 respondents from the elite survey. Data was analyzed descriptively using SPSS. Results suggested congruence in mass and elite opinion, particularly on the negative impact of drone use on privacy. These findings help advance the academic literature, by providing guidelines on the impact of drone use on domestic policymaking, particularly in the realm of privacy. The small sample size limited the inferences that could be drawn from the results. The study will lead to positive social change, by providing information on the potential impact of drones on society during their widespread adoption. Such data can be used by policymakers to generate rules that properly balance the technological value of drones in society with those rights that make a democratic society possible.