reading summary

reading summary - Vernon-James Riley PLSC 113b: Intro to US...

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Vernon-James Riley PLSC 113b: Intro to US Government Dr. Khalilah Brown-Dean 10 April 2004 READING SUMMARY: Voice and Equality This week’s reading seemed to be just a lengthy extension of Professor Brown- Dean’s lecture. The excerpt from Verba, Scholzman and Brady’s Voice and Equality investigated voter participation in the United States and its success in contributing to democratic government. The authors began by making the argument that the views and opinions of American citizens have the ability to control the decisions of government, but that ability is hindered because those views which are communicated to politicians are expressed by a limited number of citizens, in part because the nation has not attained participatory equality – less than half of Americans exercise their right to vote. Additionally, not only is participation limited, but those of the electorate who do participate in the political process do not provide a true representation of the nation’s citizens; they come from a specialized group of Americans who for many reasons are more likely to vote than others. The authors claim that this imbalance exists because those citizens who do not take part in the electoral process lack either the motivation or the capacity to do so. The authors continue by evaluating what factors influence the participatory process, and argue that both the motivation and capacity to take part in politics originates in non-political institutions that Americans come into contact with over the course of their lives, such as church, family or school. The authors examine the role these institutions play in voter participation, as well as the role of civil skills, defined as “the organizational and communications abilities that facilitate political activity” (under what they call the Civic Voluntarism Model). The examination of the role of these institutions is continued with a deeper exploration of American religious institutions, and the authors argue that American’s high church attendance rates have a great influence on the American people’s activity in politics, since the church in many ways functions as a
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This note was uploaded on 05/02/2008 for the course PLSC 113 taught by Professor Danielbutler during the Spring '08 term at Yale.

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reading summary - Vernon-James Riley PLSC 113b: Intro to US...

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