Class 13_Political Participation_101909

Class 13_Political Participation_101909 - Political Science...

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Political Science 1101 American Government: Practices and Values Class 13: Media (Cont.) & Voice and Choice – Political Participation and Voting Behavior
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From Last Class Public Opinion… How to measure public opinion and the challenges of measuring public opinion. Public opinion and democracy. Mass Media… History and organization of the mass media. Public perceptions of the media. Roles and responsibilities of the media. Determinants of news content. Assessing bias in media news coverage. Sources of media power. Yet to discuss : adversarial journalism and democracy.
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Adversarial Journalism and Democracy Adversarial journalism (“attack” or “hostile” journalism): a form of reporting in which the media adopt a hostile posture toward government and public officials. Examples : Watergate scandal, opposition to Vietnam War, critique of Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky, critique of the war in Iraq. Advocates : allows the media to function as a counterbalance to the influence and control of dominant political and economic actors; keeps government accountable to the people. Critics : contributes to the public’s political cynicism, distrust of government, and low levels of political participation.
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Today’s Questions Why do people participate in politics given that participation isn’t always rational? In what ways do people participate in politics? Who votes, and who doesn’t? What explains vote choice, or by what criteria do people vote? What explains low voter turnout? Is low voter turnout problematic for a democracy?
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Political Participation Takes Many Forms Political participation : refers to a wide range of activities that people engage in with the goal of influencing government. Forms of political participation : Vote Run for political office Volunteer for political campaigns Contribute money to political causes Protest Write letters to elected officials or newspaper editors Sign petitions Read political news and discuss politics with others Join an interest group that lobbies for political change Take issues to the court (litigation)
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Is Political Participation Rational? Rational behavior : in deciding to participate, you weigh the expected costs of participation against the expected benefits of participation. What are the expected costs (EC) of participation? What are the expected benefits (EB) of participation? When do people participate? Rational choice calculus : EB > EC ± participate EB < EC ± do nothing EB = EC ± flip a coin Overall, do you think political participation is rational?
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Motivations for Political Participation Material incentives : seeking tangible benefits, often narrowly defined in terms of economic benefits.
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Class 13_Political Participation_101909 - Political Science...

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