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Chapter 2

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Political Science
POLS 2300
Nanita Mohan

Chapter 2- Political Culture Summary  The long standing and perennial search for the cultural essence of the Canadian condition has often been about identifying and explaining the ways in which the values and beliefs are different from those of Americans  Ideas assume various forms in political life—when they take the form of a set of interrelated beliefs about how society is organized and how it ought to function- an interpretive map for understanding the world- this is called an ideology  An ideology spills beyond the boundaries of politics to embrace beliefs and judgments about other social relationships, including economic ones  When the politics of society is described as “pragmatic” and “non- ideological”, this simply indicates that a particular ideology dominates to such degree that it has become the conventional wisdom  A political culture consists of the characteristics, values, beliefs and behaviors of a society’s member in regard  Political culture comes with aspects such as: o The relative weight that people assign to such values as personal freedom, equality, social order and national prestige o The expectation that citizens tend to hold for their participation in public life and the patterns of voter turnout, party activism, social movement activities, and other politically relevant forms of behavior o Beliefs about whether government actions tend to be benign or malign towards whomever  Political culture may be thought of as a cluster of typical orientations towards the political universe o The fact that in one society this cluster may be comparatively scattered and marked by division between different segments of society, while in another it is relatively compact is in itself an observation about political culture  In Canada, research on political culture has focused primarily on the differences that exist between the politically relevant attitudes and beliefs of French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians and on the question of whether English-speaking is characterized by regional political cultures  A way in which ideas are relevant for is through individual personality o One of the most often repeated claims about Canadians are they are less likely to question and challenge authority than Americans- Canadians are said to be more deferential  The main conclusion drawn from this research is that general personality traits show up in an individual’s political ideas and actions  One way of categorizing political ideas is to describe them as being left- wing, right wing, centrist/moderate o Left wing- usually have political ideas such as proposals to increase the minimum wage or increasing spending on assistance for developing countries o Right wing- political ideas include ideas such as cutting public funding for abortions or a proposal to cut taxes for the affluent o Centre- falls between left and right on the political spectrum and attempts to achieve some middle ground between the principles and arguments of the left and right wing  Right and left are shorthand labels for conflicting belief systems o These beliefs include basic notions about how society, the economy, and politics operate as well as ideas about these matters should be arranged  Libertarians- believe that individuals should be allowed the largest margin possible margin of freedom in all realms of life, including those that involve moral choices  Collectivist and individualist visions differ in how they view and promote human dignity and in their conceptions of social justice  There are three main ideologies that have greatly influenced the politics of Western societies since the American and French revolutions o Socialism- ideology based on the principle of equality of condition o Liberalism- ideology associated with freedom of religious choice and practice, free enterprise and free trade and freedom of expression and association in politics. During the latter half of 20 century in Canada and America, liberalism came to be associated with support for the welfare state, protection of minority rights and regulation of business o Conservatism- ideology based in the importance of tradition that accepted human inequality and the organization of society into hierarchically arranged groups as part of the natural order of thing. Conservatism today in Canada and United States is associated with defense of private rights and free trade, individualism, opposition to the welfare state and emphasis on the traditional family, religion and “traditional values”  Classic liberalism- until the mid twentieth century- was associated with freedom of religious choice and practice, free en
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