Our Concern for Civic Education One of our goals in writing this book is to encourage students to participate in civic life. In appropriate chapters, we add a “Civic Education” box showing how young people have become involved in politics, government, and the making of public policies, as well as how the media, old and new, can help and hinder civic work.
Saylor URL: Saylor.org 7 We hope that our students will come to understand, appreciate, question, and criticize the realities of American politics and government and the media depictions of these realities. We also hope that they will learn how to use the media to intervene effectively in the American political system on their own terms. The Plan of the Book Chapter 1 "Communication in the Information Age" describes the communication system of the United States; accounts for its contents of news, entertainment, and opinion; discusses how people in politics and government interact with and respond to the media; and considers the importance of the new media. Chapter 2 "The Constitution and the Structure of Government Power" covers the foundations and structures of authority established by the US Constitution in 1789. We explain the origin, contents, development, and contemporary importance of the Constitution, noting that while American society has changed greatly in the last two centuries, the political system established by the Constitution still underlies and determines much of American government and politics. Next, in Chapter 3 "Federalism" , we describe American federalism and its complex interweaving of national, state, and local governments. Chapter 4 "Civil Liberties" and Chapter 5 "Civil Rights" cover the conflicts and disputes, debates, and decisions over the constitutional provisions establishing Americans’ liberties and the right to be free of discrimination. Throughout this first part of the book, we show that the US communication system is intimately linked to, and has often buttressed, these foundations of American government and politics. The following part of the book focuses on the public. Chapter 6 "Political Culture and Socialization" describes American political culture and how Americans acquire their politically relevant values, beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. Chapter 7 "Public Opinion" covers public opinion. Chapter 8 "Participation, Voting, and Social Movements" describes the many ways that Americans participate in politics. These chapters explain how and when the media are and are not a resource for the public in making sense of and influencing politics and government. The third part of the book describes the three intermediaries — interest groups ( Chapter 9 "Interest Groups" ), political parties ( Chapter 10 "Pol r itical Parties" ), and campaigns and elections ( Chapter 11 "Campaigns and Elections" ) — that connect the people to government and also link officials within
Saylor URL: Saylor.org 8 government. Participants in these intermediaries often rely heavily on the media for much of their information, while also seeking to avoid media coverage of their less appealing activities.