Chapter 4 - CHAPTER 4 American Political Culture OBJECTIVES...

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CHAPTER 4 American Political Culture OBJECTIVES Previous chapters focused on the legal and historical aspects of the United States government. This chapter concentrates instead on the somewhat less concrete notion of “political culture,” or the particular set of beliefs, attitudes, and opinions people (in this case, Americans) have about how their government ought to operate. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, the student should be able to do each of the following: 1. Define what scholars mean by political culture, and list some of the dominant aspects of political culture in the United States. 2. Discuss how American citizens compare with those of other countries in their political and economic attitudes. 3. List the contributions to U.S. political culture made by the Revolution, by the nation’s religious heritages, and by the family. 4. Explain how the “culture war” between orthodox and progressive Americans shapes the debate over controversial policy issues. 5. Identify reasons for Americans’ mistrust of government, and explain how it is affected by both political events and political efficacy. 6. Explain why political tolerance is a necessary component of a democratic system. OVERVIEW The United States system of government is supported by a political culture that fosters a sense of civic duty, takes pride in the nation’s constitutional arrangements, and provides support for the exercise of essential civil liberties (albeit sometimes out of indifference more than principle). In recent decades, people’s mistrust of government officials (though not of the system itself) has increased, and confidence in officials’ responsiveness to the popular will has declined. Although Americans value liberty in both the political system and the economy, they believe equality is important principally in the political realm. In economic affairs, although a few people wish to see equality of results, many support equality of opportunity and inequality of results. Not only is the American culture generally supportive of democratic rule, it also has certain distinctive features that make the American way of governing different from other democracies. Americans are preoccupied with their rights. This fact, combined with a political system that encourages the vigorous exercise of rights and claims, gives political life in the United States an adversarial character. Unlike the Japanese or the Swedes, Americans do not generally reach political decisions by consensus, and they often do not defer to the authority of administrative agencies. U.S. politics, more than that of many other nations, has protracted conflict at every stage.
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Chapter 4: American Political Culture CHAPTER OUTLINE WITH KEYED-IN RESOURCES I. Political culture (THEME A: WHAT IS “AMERICAN POLITICAL CULTURE”?) A.Constitutional differences among the United States, Great Britain, and France 1. Written constitution (United States, France); unwritten constitution (Great Britain)
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This note was uploaded on 09/24/2011 for the course MATHE 32341 taught by Professor Mac during the Spring '11 term at Delaware Tech.

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Chapter 4 - CHAPTER 4 American Political Culture OBJECTIVES...

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