Government and Politics
Week 4:The Political Nature of
Lecture 3: Participation and
(first, more on mass
media have diverse impacts on democratic
mass media contribute to majoritarian democracy in the
U.S. in two ways:
being critical of politicians and search for
weaknesses in their public statements, reporters
improve the accuracy of communication from government
polling citizens' reactions to political events and
governmental actions, the mass media improve
communication from citizens to
mass media are less important to the pluralist model
of democracy, although interest groups are
increasingly using the media to general public support
for their special interests.
- The mass
media have played an important role in advancing
equality, especially racial equality, in the
the mass media are willing to mobilize government action
to infringe on personal freedom for equality's sake, they
resist attempts to infringe on freedom of the press to
promote public order.
with the public, journalists are far more likely to
regard freedom of the press as sacrosanct.
- On the
topic of press freedom, the media operate as an
interest group in pluralist
media's interest in reporting whatever they wish
whenever they wish erodes government's efforts to
sensationalist coverage of terrorist activities
tends to encourage the
coverage of brutal crimes tends to produce
given to deaths from adulterated substances tends
to prompt further adulterations.
liberal messages of the mass media
freedom over order
equality over freedom
"elite" and "targeted" media contribute more to pluralist
democracy and perhaps undermine democratic
of elite and targeted media
or ethnic radio
oriented, mostly right-wing
Public Radio, mostly liberal
television--the 500 channel revolution
oriented, mostly right-wing
Broadcasting Service, News Hour
consequences of these new manifestations of electronic
special interests to organize
allow anti-system groups to organize
anti-jewish hate groups
- The rise
of the new electronic technology poses a genuine problem
for democratic government
much of this technology really serves majoritarian
much serves very narrow special
Americans politically apathetic--what is the evidence for
- Turnout in
less than 49% in 1996
35 % in 1998
turnout figures do not compare favorably with turnout
across the world, so people contend that Americans are
- In truth,
U.S. citizens tend to participate as much or more
than citizens in other western nations.
the Graphs of Conventional Political Participation in
five nations on pages 214 and 215.
only form of political participation that Americans do
less than others is vote.
says more about our electoral system than about the
civic spirit of U.S. citizens.
participation comes in several forms.
to the democratic ideal "government ought to be run by
- In the
model of direct democracy citizens participate
directly in government affairs.
democracy relies on ELECTIONS -- formal procedures for
voting to make group decisions -- as the formal
mechanism for citizen participation.
PARTICIPATION is relatively uncommon behavior that
threatens or defies government channels.
generally disapprove of unconventional political
action involving destruction of property and physical
participation has been successful in influencing
President Johnson from seeking
concern over the Vietnam War.
the voting age to 18.
civil rights movement relied on DIRECT ACTION --
assembling crowds to confront business and local
government -- to demand equal treatment for
participation pressured Congress to pass civil
rights laws against racial
protest in the South has been in part
responsible for increased welfare
are three typical characteristics of people
participating in direct political action.
of the political system.
sense of political efficacy.
highly developed sense of group
suggest that Americans are more likely to participate
in unconventional politics than citizens from other
PARTICIPATION is relatively routine, non-threatening
behavior that uses the channels of representative
BEHAVIORS are purely ceremonial acts expressing
allegiance to government and
BEHAVIOR seeks to modify government
may derive particular benefits from
resourceful citizens are able to use the court
system to press their rights.
with higher economic status are more likely to
contact public officials to ask for special
demand more of local then national
engage in two kinds of activities which influence
the selection of government personnel and
INITIATIVE acts such as voting do not require
much effort by the individual.
INITIATIVE acts require active participation by
individuals to obtain benefits for a
to citizens of other countries, Americans are less
likely to vote in elections but more likely to use
other forms of conventional participation.