Essay on WTP 8e TX Ch06

Submitted By aeb1234
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Pages: 6

Public Opinion

Public Opinion
• Democratic governments should reflect the will of the people
– How do we know what that is?
– Average citizens do not always have informed opinions about every issue, and thus are open to influence Understanding Public Opinion

Understanding Public Opinion
• Public Opinion: the values and attitudes that people have about issues, events, and personalities
• Values (or beliefs): a person’s basic orientations to politics • Political Ideology: a cohesive set of beliefs that form a general philosophy about government
• Attitude (or opinion): specific view about a particular issue, personality or event

Political Values
• Most Americans share a belief in a common set of principles

How Political Values are Formed
• Our underlying beliefs tend to shape how we approach new information
• Those underlying beliefs are shaped by our life’s experiences, especially those involving family upbringing, social groups, education, and the general political climate

Influences on Our Political Values

How Political Values are Formed
• The process by which we come to form beliefs is called political socialization

Influences on Our Political Values
• Family
– The stories we hear growing up in our families can be highly influential if they are coherent and consistent Influences on Our Political Values
• Social Groups
– If people of the same backgrounds tend to have similar life experiences, then it is possible those experiences will shape their understanding of the political world

Influences on Our Political Values

Influences on Our Political Values

Influences on Our Political Values
• The Gender Gap
– Due to their experiences in life, men and women often see issues differently

Disagreements among Men and
Women on National Security Issues

Influences on Our Political Values
Social Groups
– Bennington study (1935-1939)

Landon (R)
FDR (D)
Thomas (Soc)

P(F)

F

P(S)

So

P(J&S)

J&S

66%

62%

69%

43%

60%

15%

26%

29%

22%

43%

35%

54%

7%

9%

8%

15%

4%

30%

Influences on Our Political Values
• Religion
– Religions can be powerful if it repeats stories, ceremonies, and rituals that tell its members about who they are and how they should see the world.

Influences on Our Political Values
• Group membership can also lead to conformity through social pressure

Influences on Our Political Values
• Education

From Political Values to Ideology

Influences on Our Political Values
• Political Conditions

Influences on Our Political Values
• Political Ideologies
– Liberalism v. Conservatism

Influences on Our Political Values
• Liberalism (Domestic)
– Government involvement in economy to protect workers – Expansion of social services
– Efforts on behalf of the poor, minorities, women, consumers, and the environment
– Rights for the accused
– Separation of church and state

Influences on Our Political Values
• Liberalism (Foreign Affairs)
– Favor arms control
– Opposition to expansion of nuclear weapons
– Support aid to poor nations
– Opposition to the use of American troops to influence the domestic affairs of developing countries – Support for international organizations

Influences on Our Political Values
• Conservatism (Domestic)
– Opposed to social and economic engineering such as wealth redistribution and affirmative action
– Favor light regulation of business, low taxation, traditional family structures, school prayer
– Concern for victims of crimes over perpetrators

Influences on Our Political Values
• Conservatism (Foreign Affairs)
– Support for military power
– Distrust of entanglements with international organizations – Poorer countries must bring themselves up through market-based reforms

Profile of a Liberal: Representative
Nancy Pelosi

Profile of a Conservative: House
Speaker John Boehner

How We Form Political Opinions
• Ideology plays a role
– Not all issues are clearly defined ideologically
– Most citizens are not all that ideological
– Many issues can be framed in…