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American Government - Chapter 7 - Participation
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American Government - Chapter 7 - Participation

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  • 1. Chapter 7
  • 2. POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: OPPORTUNITIES, COSTS, AND BENEFITS
    • All political and civic activities involve trade-offs between the cost of involvement and the perceived benefits.
    • Rational actor theory states that choices are based on our individual assessment of costs and benefits.
    • Those who enjoy the benefits from an activity without paying the costs of participation are known as free riders.
    • Free riders are a problem in societies that do not force people to participate in the political system in order to receive its benefits. Why?
    • Is it wrong to force citizens to participate?
  • 3. CHARACTERISTICS OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
    • Different forms of political participation provide different amounts of information.
      • Voting conveys limited information. Why?
      • Working for a candidate, joining a political party, or contributing money to a campaign imparts more information than voting alone
      • Activities that impart more information may involve higher costs in terms of time or money
  • 4. CHARACTERISTICS OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
    • Some forms of participation provide more frequent messages.
      • Voting is low frequency; an individual can only vote once per election
      • Donations are high frequency; an individual can donate time or money more than once per campaign
      • The frequency and strength of a political message is strongly related to the amount of resources the sender possesses
  • 5. INGREDIENTS FOR INVOLVEMENT
    • Acts of political participation require the expenditure of resources such as time, money, or expertise.
    • The wealthy are more than twice as likely as those in low-income groups to participate in all forms of political activity.
    • Better-educated individuals are more likely to engage in electoral activities and community activities.
    • Religious institutions with open leadership positions often provide opportunities to learn civic skills.
    • Upper-income jobs provide more opportunities than low-skill jobs to develop resources that are useful for political life.
  • 6. INGREDIENTS FOR INVOLVEMENT
    • Political participation varies by ethnicity and gender.
      • Whites participate in greater numbers than African Americans
      • Hispanics have lower participation rates than either whites or African Americans
      • African Americans and whites with similar levels of education vote at about the same rates
      • Women vote at higher rates than men
      • Men contribute more money to political campaigns and contact political leaders more often than women
  • 7. Political Engagement
    • What is political engagement?
    • What are the four dimensions of political engagement?
      • Political interest, efficacy, information, strength of party identification
    • What is political efficacy?
      • Internal – an individual’s self confidence in his or her ability to understand and participate in politics
      • External – an individual’s belief that his or her activities will influence what the government will do or who will win an election
  • 8. INGREDIENTS FOR INVOLVEMENT
    • Political mobilization is the process of encouraging citizens to become politically involved.
      • Direct mobilization involves contacting citizens personally to take part in political activities
      • In indirect mobilization, leaders use networks of friends and acquaintances to persuade others to participate
  • 9. INGREDIENTS FOR INVOLVEMENT
    • Several factors affect political mobilization:
      • Mobilization efforts are timed to enhance the success of the cause.
      • Politicians target those they believe will respond positively to their message
      • The cost of the political action requested affects mobilization.
      • Asking too much, too quickly, and low success rates = low participation
  • 10. Political Inactives’ Reasons for Their Inactivity
    • Not enough time
    • Self Interest
    • Politics are not important
    • Uninteresting and boring
    • Dirty Business
    • Can’t help personal and family problems
  • 11. VOTING STATISTICS
    • Voter turnout increases directly with employment status and wealth, level of education, and age.
    • Average rates of voter turnout in the United States compare unfavorably to rates in other democracies.
    • Voter turnout and interest is especially low among young people.
  • 12. VOTING
    • Several factors account for low voter turnout:
      • Difficulty of voter registration
      • Timing and scheduling of elections
      • Two-party-system depression of voting interest among lower-income groups
      • The great number and frequency of elections in the United States
      • Noncompetitive political races
  • 13. Is It Rational to Vote?
    • 2008 – recent study found that probability of influencing presidential election with your vote is roughly 1 in 60 Million.
    • More likely to be hit by lightening – twice!
    • (Benefits – Costs) * (probability of the event occurring) = expected utility
    • What are the benefits?
    • What are the costs?
    • What accounts for all the people who do vote?
  • 14. OTHER TYPES OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY
    • Americans show greater levels of participation in more time-consuming political activities such as campaign work or contact with public officials (TIME)
      • Why is this the case when voter turnout is so low?
    • The affluent are more likely to write letters, volunteer on campaigns, contact elected officials, and work on solving community problems (SKILL)
    • Modern politicians and activists increasingly rely on financial support as a form of participation (MONEY)
  • 15. OTHER TYPES OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY
    • What is checkbook democracy?
    • Some scholars worry that “checkbook democracy” depresses voter interest and shuts the less affluent out of the political process.
    • Average citizens are using consumer activism to make political or social statements with their buying power.
  • 16. THE IMPACT OF PARTICIPATION PATTERNS ON POLICY
    • Voting data indicate that the attitudes and preferences of voters and nonvoters are substantially similar.
    • Wealthier citizens are three times more likely as the disadvantaged to contact elected officials.
    • Political leaders are thus more likely to hear about the concerns of the wealthy such as taxes, government spending, and the budget instead of basic needs arguments.
  • 17. Participation
    • Are we in a crisis due to the decrease in all forms of political participation?
    • At what point is it time to panic?
    • What are some of the proposed reforms designed to help increase participation?
    • Do you believe that there is a difference between attitudes and preferences between voters and non-voters.
      • If not, is compulsory voting going to change anything?
  • 18. Lippmann – The Phantom Public
    • How does Lippmann portray the “average” citizen in this piece?
    • Where do their opinions come from?
      • Times of crisis
      • Individuals with specific expertise over an issue
    • With limited information (and ability), what does Lippmann expect the public opinion?
      • Check the use of force in a crisis
    • Another advocate for elite driven theory
      • Do you agree?
  • 19. Piven/Cloward: Why Americans Still Don’t Vote
    • Are we doing everything possible to increase voting percentages without mandating that everyone participate?
    • What was the goal of the NVRA?
    • By decreasing the cost of voting (making registration easier), hope to see an increase in turnout?
      • Did it work?
    • What do Piven and Cloward say will be the impact of voter registration laws?