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Political culture

Bell Ringer:
Explain the term political culture. Why is it important to
examine political culture as well as political institutions
and laws to understand a political system.
Agenda:
Reading Quiz
Political Culture
Homework:
Bring textbook next class
Read Chapter 5

What we believe: The ideas that unite us

Political culture refers to the broad pattern


of ideas, beliefs, and values about citizens
and government held by a population.

What we believe: The ideas that unite us

In American political culture, our


expectations of government focus on rules
and processes rather than results.
We

think government should guarantee a


fair playing field but not guarantee equal
outcomes for all players.
We

believe that individuals are responsible


for their own welfare and that what is good
for them is good for society as a whole.

What we believe: The ideas that unite us

Shared core values:


Liberty
Equality
Individualism
Democracy
Rule

of law
Civic duty

Political culture
Objectives:
Understand

the distinct set of beliefs fundamental to how most Americans


think about government and politics.
Analyze how political culture has changed over the past 100 years
Determine how much Americans believe in civic liberty and political tolerance

Bell Ringer:
The U.S. political culture emphasizes the importance of civic duty. This belief
has no validity unless political efficacy exists in reality. Discuss the degree to
which the American public possesses a sense of political efficacy. Is the
cultural value of civic duty legitimately realized in the opinion of the public?

Agenda:
CBM
Political Culture
Alexis de Tocqueville
Homework:
Chapter 5 Review questions
Finish de Tocqueville reading

What we believe: The ideas that unite us


To live as a nation, citizens have to share a view of
who they are, how they should live, and what their
world should be like.
If not
They fragment and break apart
Political cultures provide coherence and national unity
to citizens who may be very different in other ways.
Americans achieve national unity through a political
culture based on visions of democracy, freedom, and
equality.

What we believe: The ideas that divide us

Although Americans have much in common,


there are over 250 million of us.
We are very different in terms of our
backgrounds.
Religion
Education
Geography
Race
Gender
Prejudices

What we believe: The ideas that divide us


This causes us to have lots of different beliefs
about politics, the economy, and society.
This is what divides us into opposing camps.
Ideologies: sets of beliefs about politics and
society that help people make sense of their
world.
Luckily our core values about how the world
should be, we can debate and resolve our
differences usually without letting those
differences get out of hand.

What we believe: The ideas that divide us

Conservatives
Republicans
Government

control should

be minimal
Government cant be trusted
with too much power
Government not a competent
economic actor
Typically wealthier, uppermiddle class

Liberals
Democrats
Government

should play
larger role in regulating
the economy
Economic market cant
regulate itself, left alone
susceptible to things like
recessions and depressions
More likely to be lowerpaid blue collar workers

No successful communist or socialist parties in the U.S. Our


two parties still on relatively the same spot on the political
continuum.

Participation
More

people CAN participate in our representative


democracy now than 200 years ago.
Doesnt

mean that more people DO participate.

American

voter turnout rates are abysmally low compared


to other Western industrialized democracies.
Political

efficacy: the extent to which people feel that their


beliefs and opinions matter and will be responded to by the
government.
Many

Americans tend to be apathetic toward politics. my


vote doesnt matter. Why is this?

Theories on the Lack of Participation


Elitist:

doesnt really matter whether people participate


or not all important decisions made by elites.
1.
2.
3.
4.

Military
Business leaders
Politicians
Media

.Pluralist:

Americans dont need to participate


individually because their needs are represented in
government sufficiently through their membership in
various groups.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Environmental groups
Labor unions
Professional associations
Religious groups
Veterans groups

Lack of Participation
ButSome
say
the
falling
levels
of
involvement, interest,
and trust in politics signal a true civic crisis.

Democracies can only survive with the


support and participation of citizens.

Citizens dont trust government.

Some take their freedoms for granted,


assume that since they were born free,
theyll naturally remain free.

We live in an age of overwhelming


cynicism about and distrust in government.

People dont vote and dont pay attention


to political issues.

Theories on the Lack of Participation


Question of how democratic the U.S. is a question
of power.

Who is likely to be a winner in the political


process?
Looked at this way, the question has lots to
do with your
life, especially as government starts to make
more demands
on your life.
So what? PARTICIPATE!