2 Political CulturePolitical culture: a distinctive and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out.Political Ideology (not the same as political culture): more or less consistent sets of views concerning the policies government ought to pursue (conservatism, liberalism)
3 Elements of American Political Culture Liberty: freedom to do what we want, as long as our actions don’t hurt othersEquality: equal vote and chance to participate in political systemDemocracy: government officials should be held accountable to the peopleCivic Duty: people ought to help out in their community when possibleIndividual responsibility: barring some disability, individuals are responsible for their own actions and well-beingJustice and Rule of Law: government is based on a body of law applied equally and by just procedures
4 Questions about Culture How do we know people share common cultural beliefs?Inferred from books, speeches, political choices, etc.How do we explain behavior that is inconsistent with political culture?These beliefs change behavior. Example: equalityWhy is there so much political conflict in U.S. history?Some beliefs contradict each other and are not consistently prioritized.
5 The Economic SystemAmericans tolerate economic inequality more than political inequality.“Equality of opportunity” NOT “Equality of Results”Cultural emphasis on economic individualism and personal responsibility.
6 Sources of Political Culture HistoricalAmerican Revolution: War fought over libertyConstitution: balanced liberty with governmentAdversarial culture: preoccupation with individual rightsDistrust of authority: British rule, religious belief that human nature was fundamentally depraved
7 Sources of Political Culture Legal-sociological factorsWidespread participation permitted by the ConstitutionReligious institutionsReligious diversityPuritan heritageMiniature political systemsFamilyGreater freedom of children and equality among family membersAbsence of class consciousness (workers versus management)
8 The Culture War Battle over values Differs from political disputes: Money is not at stakeCompromise is almost impossibleConflict is more profoundConflict arising from deep differences in beliefs about private and public morality
9 The Culture WarOrthodox: morality is as, or more, important than self-expression and morality derives from fixed rules from GodProgressive: personal freedom is as, or more, important than tradition with changing rules based on circumstances of modern lifeThe culture war occurs both between and within religious denominations
10 The Culture War The culture war is changing More people consider themselves progressives than previouslyThe rise of media and technology makes it easier to wage a cultural war on a large scaleThe culture war may affect people’sTrust in governmentSense of political efficacyTolerance of different views
11 Mistrust of Government General mistrust of government officials, not the entire systemExamples of causes: Vietnam, WatergateLevel of trust rose briefly during the Reagan administration
12 Political EfficacyPolitical efficacy: A citizen’s capacity to understand and influence political eventsThere has been a sharp drop in the sense of external efficacy (the ability to make the system respond to the citizenry)The sense of internal efficacy (the ability to understand and take part in political affairs) has remained relatively unchanged over time.
13 Political TolerancePolitical tolerance is crucial to democracy because it allows free discussion of ideas and the selection of rulers without oppression.Democracy does not require perfect tolerance.
14 Political ToleranceMost Americans believe in the idea of political tolerance but would deny rights in concrete cases.There is concern that the nation is becoming too tolerant of behaviors that harm societyMany favor defending common moral standards over protecting individual rightsStill, most Americans are willing to allow expression by those with whom they disagree
15 Political Tolerance How do unpopular groups survive? Most people do not act on their beliefsThere is no consensus on whom to persecute (Which groups do we deny rights?)Courts are insulated from public opinion and enforce constitutional protections