American Political Culture

Topics: Religion, Economic system, World War II Pages: 6 (1259 words) Published: February 26, 2012
Study Outline 
Chapter 4: American Political Culture
I. Introduction
A. The American model of government both here and abroad B. Tocqueville on American democracy
1. Abundant and fertile soil for democracy to grow
2. No feudal aristocracy; minimal taxes; few legal restraints 3. Westward movement; vast territory provided opportunities 4. Nation of small, independent farmers
5. "Moral and intellectual characteristics," today called political culture II. Political Culture
C. Defined as a distinctive and patterned way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out (e.g. stronger American belief in political than in economic equality) D. Elements of the American political system

6. Liberty
7. Democracy
8. Equality
9. Civic duty
E. Some questions about the U.S. political culture
10. How do we know people share these beliefs?
Before polls, beliefs inferred from books, speeches, and so on 11. How do we explain behavior inconsistent with beliefs? Beliefs still important, source of change
12. Why so much political conflict in U.S. history? Conflict occurs even with beliefs in common
13. Most consistent evidence of political culture
Use of terms Americanism, un-American
F. The economic system
14. Americans support free enterprise but see limits on marketplace freedom 15. Americans prefer equality of opportunity to equality of result; individualist view 16. Americans have a shared commitment to economic individualism/self-reliance (see 1924 and 1977 polls) III. Comparing citizens of the United States with those of other nations G. Political system

17. Swedes: more deferential than participatory
a. Defer to government experts and specialists
b. Rarely challenge governmental decisions
c. Believe in what is best more than what people want d. Value equality over liberty
e. Value harmony and observe obligations
18. Japanese
f. Value good relations with colleagues
g. Emphasize group decisions and social harmony
h. Respect authority
19. Americans
i. Tend to assert rights
j. Emphasize individualism, competition, equality, following rules, treating others fairly (compare with the Japanese) 20. Cultural differences affect political and economic systems 21. Danger of overgeneralizing: many diverse groups within a culture 22. Almond and Verba: U.S. and British citizens in cross-national study k. Stronger sense of civic duty, civic competence l. Institutional confidence

m. Sense of patriotism
H. Economic system
23. Swedes (contrasted with Americans): Verba and Orren n. Equal pay and top limit on incomes
o. Less income inequality
24. Cultural differences make a difference in politics: private ownership in United States versus public ownership in European countries I. The Civic Role of Religion
25. Americans are highly religious compared with Europeans 26. Recent trends in religiosity
27. Putnam's "bowling alone" thesis
J. Religion and Politics
28. Religious movements transformed American politics and fueled the break with England. 29. Both liberals and conservatives use the pulpit to promote political change. 30. Bush, Gore and public support for faith based approaches to social ills IV. The sources of political culture

K. Historical roots
31. Revolution essentially over liberty; preoccupied with asserting rights 32. Adversarial culture the result of distrust of authority and a belief that human nature is depraved 33....
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