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Chapter%207 - POL 413 assignment Complete the exercises in...

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POL 413 assignment: Complete the exercises in this chapter. Type up your answers to Exercise 7.1, Exercise 7.2, Exercise 7.3, and Exercise 7.4. See "Sample Workbook Assignment" on Blackboard to see how you should format your answers. Be prepared to discuss in class on Friday, November 5th. (Group work is not allowed. Each student should do his or her own work. If students have any questions, please contact Prof. Clawson.) 7 7 P OLITICAL K NOWLEDGE Are you familiar with the story of Snow White and the seven dwarfs? If so, how many of the seven dwarfs can you name? Take a minute and jot down the names you come up with in the margins of this workbook. Now how about the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices? How many of them can you name? Again, take a minute and jot down their names in the margins of this workbook. If you are like most people, you can recall more of the dwarfs than the justices. In a recent poll, 77% of Americans could name two dwarfs, whereas only 24% could name two Supreme Court Justices. 1 Does it matter that many American citizens know more about pop culture than about who sits on the nation’s highest court? Well, it depends on your perspective. Many political scientists prefer a participatory model of democracy, which expects citizens to be 1
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informed and engaged in civic life. These scholars lament the public’s lack of political knowledge and worry that citizens will not be able to hold government officials accountable if they are not knowledgeable about the workings of government. Other political scientists, however, endorse an elite theory of democracy, which argues that citizens do not need to know that much about politics. Rather than relying on their own political knowledge, citizens can just take cues from political elites to make political judgments. In this chapter, we will discuss how political knowledge is defined and measured. We will analyze levels of knowledge among citizens and examine whether those levels differ depending on demographic characteristics such as gender, age, and education. These analyses will provide you with an empirical basis to start considering whether political scientists should worry about levels of political knowledge among American citizens. Measuring Political Knowledge Political knowledge is defined as: “the range of factual information about politics that is stored in long-term memory.” 2 Scholars argue that citizens should be knowledgeable about three types of factual information. First, citizens should know the rules of the game. That is, citizens should understand the basic institutions and processes of politics, such as the three branches of government and the Bill of Rights. Second, citizens should know the substance of politics. This means citizens should have knowledge of such things as where U.S. soldiers are deployed and the types of health care reforms that are being considered by Congress. Third, citizens should be aware of people and players. For example, citizens should be able to identify political leaders and the issue positions held by the Republican and Democratic parties.
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