Political Culture • Distinctive and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out.
Americans believe in liberty, democracy, equality and civic duty. • Mistrust of Government – mostly of leaders rather than the system. • Political efficacy – a citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political events.
Sources of American Political Culture • Participation in politics in permitted by the Constitution. • Absence of an established national religion. • Absence of class consciousness.
Political Ideology • A coherent and consistent set of beliefs about who ought to rule, what principles rulers ought to obey and what policies rulers ought to pursue. • Most citizens display little “ideology”, i.e. liberal, conservative, radical; except for activists. • Political elites display more ideological consistency.
Political Tolerance • Concrete v. abstract • Unpopular groups are able to survive because people rarely act on beliefs and the court system is “sufficiently insulated” from public opinion.
Public Opinion • The public’s attitudes toward a given government policy vary over time. • Public opinion places boundaries on allowable types of public policy. • Citizens are willing to register opinions on matters outside their expertise. • Governments tend to react to public opinion.
Polling Public Opinion • Exit Polls • Sampling • Random Samples • Distribution • Sampling Errors • Accuracy and Questioning • Consensus v. Polarization
The Origins of Political Attitudes • Role of the family • Schooling & information • Ideology • Job (Income) • Race & ethnicity • Religious tradition • Gender • Region
Political Participation • Conventional Participation 1. Supportive Behaviors 2. Influencing Behaviors • low-initiative • high-initiative • Unconventional Participation – behavior that threatens or defies • Group Politics v. Movement Politics • Techniques of movements include marches, rallies, sit-ins, petitions, use of spokespersons, non-violent disruptions
VotingThe Rise of the American Electorate • 1789 – white, male property owners • 1850 – nearly all white adult males • 1870 – 15th amendment, all men over 21 • 1920 – 19th amendment, all men and women over 21 • 1971 – all men and women over 18
Group Factors inn Voting • Party • Class, Occupation, Income (Standard Socioeconomic Model) • Education • Religion • Gender • Race/Ethnicity • Age
Impact of Progressivism • Direct Primary • Recall • Referendum • Initiative
Voter Turnout, a final thought… • Americans vote less, but participate more than people in other countries in other forms of political behavior. • Younger voters are the least likely to vote. • Restrictive laws and the burden of individual registration contribute to low voter turnout. • Americans may be happy with the “system” and less likely to feel the need to vote.