Presentation on theme: "American Political Culture"— Presentation transcript:
1 American Political Culture The meaning and unique qualities of the American Political Culture
2 American Political Culture Have you ever heard of Captain France?
3 Political Culture Intro generalizations about countries can vary, even when they are all representative democraciesDifferent populations have very different republicsCulture counts when it comes to politics and government“Americanism,” liberalism, conservativism, etc heavily influence definition of political efficacy.In general, the beliefs of a people greatly influence the way in which a government operates regardless of the form of government.
4 Political Culture What defines political culture? Constitutional DifferencesInstitutions, features of gov, power relationshipsDemographic differencesRace, language, religionCultural Differences“Americanism”
5 Political Culture Definition Distinctive and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried outI.e. American generally believe more strongly in political than in economic equality
6 Political Culture Important elements of American Political Culture: LibertyEqualityDemocracycivic dutyindividual responsibility
7 Political Culture Liberty Americans are preoccupied with their rights. They believe they should be free to do pretty much as they please, with some exceptions, so long as they don’t hurt other people or infringe upon their rights.
8 Political Culture Democracy Americans think government officials should be accountable to the people
9 Political Culture Civic Duty Americans generally feel people ought to take community affairs seriously and help out when they can
10 Political Culture Individual Responsibility A characteristically American view is that, barring some disability, individuals are responsible for their own actions and well-being
11 Political Culture Equality Americans believe everybody should have an equal vote and an equal chance to participate and succeed.
12 Political Culture General Questions about U.S. Political Culture How do we know people share these beliefs?Before polls, beliefs were inferred from books, speeches, and political choicesHow do we explain behavior inconsistent with beliefs?Beliefs are still important and may cause changes in behaviorWhy is there so much political conflict in U.S. History?Beliefs contradict one another and are not consistently prioritized
13 Political Culture The Economic System of the U.S. Americans believe first and foremost in free-enterpriseFree-marketCapitalismAdam SmithAmericans believe in equality of opportunity in the economy, but not equality of resultJustifies the extremely wealthyFew are upset at Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc.Americans have widely shared commitment to economic individualismHelp those only “truly in need,” economic responsibility
14 Political Culture America’s Difference in Political Culture Americans… tend to assert individual’s rights and freedomsemphasize individualism, competition equality, following rules, treating others fairly but impersonallylag in voting rates but not other forms of political participationhave more confidence in government institutions
15 Political Culture America’s Difference in Political Culture Americans… acknowledge flaws but are still “proud” of their national identity and “would be willing to fight” for their country in the event of a warare highly religious compared to Europeansallow religion to play important role in shaping politicsboth liberals and conservatives use religion
16 Political Culture The Sources of Political Culture Historical Roots American Revolution- assertion of liberties and rightsConstitution- reconciled personal liberties with governmentCounter culture- people’s want for guarantee against governmentDistrust of authority stemming from historically corrupt governmentsReflection of majoritarian view that human nature is somewhat depravedlegitimated the role of the opposition party, demonstrating that liberty and political change can coexist
17 Political Culture The Sources of Political Culture Legal-sociological factorsWidespread participation permitted by ConstitutionReligious diversityNo established religionPuritan belief system stressed personal achievementProtestant Ethic”Work hardSave moneyObey lawDo good for othersMiniature political systems established through church parishes and communities
18 Political Culture The Sources of Political Culture Legal-sociological factorsFamily valuesGreater freedom for children and the younger generationsLeads to belief in rights and acceptance of diverse viewsHigh degree of class consciousness absentMost people consider themselves middle classEven unemployed do no appose management of governmentHoratio Algiers myth
19 Political Culture The Sources of Political Culture Culture War Culture classes in America battle over valuesMoney is not at stakeCompromises are almost impossibleConflict is more profoundIdeologies/values/beliefs----> religionCulture conflict animated by deep differences in people’s beliefs about private and public morality-- standards that ought to govern individual behavior and social arrangements
20 Political Culture The Sources of Political Culture Culture War What kind of country we “ought” to live inTwo main groups: Orthodox and ProgressiveOrthodox- morality is as, or more, important than self-expression and morality drives from fixed rules from GodProgressive: personal freedom is as, or more, important than tradition with changing rules based on circumstances of modern lifeOrthodox- fundamentalist ProtestantsProgressive- liberal Protestants
21 Political Culture The Sources of Political Culture Culture War Culture War occurring between and within religious denominationsAffects people’s views on governmentTrustSense of political efficacySense of freedomSense of security
22 Political Culture Mistrust of Government Dramatic Increase in 1960’s “Crisis of Confidence” CarterPollingLess often trusted government to do what is right all or most of the timeHad diminished trust in President and CongressHad virtually unchanged trust in supreme courtHad increased trust in state and local governmentsWatergate, Vietnam, only increased trendMistrust of officials not process or institutions.
23 Political Culture Political Efficacy definition: citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political eventsTwo parts to political efficacyInternalConfidence in one’s ability to under and influence events; currently about the same as the fiftiesExternalBelief that system will respond to citizensNot shaped by particular eventsDeclined steadily since 60’sAmericans seem to believe that government is becoming too big to respond to individual preferencesStill higher in America than Europe
24 Political Culture American Political Culture is unique Protection of individual liberties balanced with American’s dependence on moralityValues based decisions contradict legal/constituional decisionsGovernment focuses on constitutionalGeneral public focuses on morality