Public Opinion Text Notes (Got A+ on the test)

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Political Science
POLI 2052
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IPublic OpinionPublic Opinion is the broad term that is used to describe the values ideological perspectives and attitudes held by individuals about issues events people and institutionsPolitical values are central and enduring predispositions that reflect abstract prescriptive beliefs about humanity society and public affairs Goren 2005A set of values might include equal opportunity liberty limited government traditional family values moral tolerance consent of the governedFor some values there is nearconsensus within the population for example most people would say that the values of equal opportunity or tolerance are important for others such as limited government there may be more debateWhat is clear however is that there is even more debate on the application of values to particular issuesso while most of the public will support the value of equal opportunity opinion is much more divided on issues that involve the abstract principle of equal opportunity such as charter schools or programs for atrisk children or the inheritance taxLikewise values tend to be much more persistentindividuals are more likely to change their mind about specific issues than about the fundamental values that they holdAlexis de Tocqueville travelled throughout the United States during the early 19th century and his observations of the young nation were captured n Democracy in AmericaHe wrote of American valuesI think that democratic communities have a natural taste for freedom left to themselves they will seek it cherish it and view any privation of it with regretBut for equality their passion is ardent insatiable incessant invincible they call for equality in freedom and if they cannot obtain that they still call for equality in slaveryThey will endure poverty servitude barbarismbut they will not endure aristocracyA persons ideology is their set of beliefs that form their general philosophy about governmentThe categories used in contemporary politics are relatively broad and as such cannot reliably predict the issue positions of any one individualHowever generally speaking liberals are seen as supporting government involvement in economic issues higher taxes more social welfare education health programs and less government involvement in social issues support for reproductive rights less opposition to same sex marriage etcConservatives are seen as supporting less government involvement and regulation of economic issues less regulation of business lower taxes less government spending on social welfare education health programs and more government involvement in social issues more opposition to abortion more opposition to same sex marriageLibertarians tend to be opposed to government involvement in either the economy or social issues supportive of reproductive rights opposed to gun control opposed to regulation of businesses prefer less government spending on social welfare education health programsPolitical culture is a nations or states or regions or groups shared set of values beliefs norms about government and politicsThere is some debate over the utility of the concept of political culture and how to define or measure political cultureDaniel Elazar in American FederalismA View From The States identified three types of political culture in the USHe argued that there was a moralistic political culture that was dominant inin the moralistic political cultures government was seen as a positive force and the community and government could intervene in private affairs to reach shared goalsIndividuals who share a moralistic political culture tended to believe that individuals had a civic duty to participate in politics and that individuals should seek office in order to make good public policyin order to fulfill the obligation that we all have according to moralistic political culture to engage in public serviceElazar argued that this view of public life and of government was brought to the United States by the Puritans and extended throughout the upper Great Lakes region to the North West Minnesota Washington OregonElazar argued that settlement of states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin by individuals of Scandinavian descent reinforced these valuesElazar argued that an individualistic culture on the other hand was most common in Middle Atlantic statesPennsylvania New York New Jersey DelawareIn this region he argued the emphasis was on the free market on pursuit of material selfinterest and professional advancementand on individual rights and libertiesThere is an emphasis on a businesslike approach to politicsHe argued that individuals in this type of political culture were more likely to see politics as inevitably sometimes corrupt because individuals were pursuing their own selfinterest and to see the pursuit of office as something that individuals did out of selfinterestWhile this culture was rooted in the Middle Atlantic states Elazar argued that it spread through parts of the Midwest into Western statesElazars third type of culture was the traditionalist culture rooted in the SouthThe emphasis in traditional political culture he argued was on an existing political and social hierarchyparticipation was expected from an elite few but most of the population was not expected or encouraged to participate politicallyThe emphasis was also on political power based in familiesthe obligation and the wisdom to govern would be seen Elazar argued as something that was held by a select group of individuals who were often born into political families and then steered into political life
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