Lecture 2: Dye, Ch 2 (pp24-42) Political Culture: Ideas in Conflict

Lecture 2:
Dye, Ch 2 (pp24-42)
Political Culture: Ideas in
-According to Dye (p 25), political culture
“refers to widely shared ideas about who
should govern, for what ends, and by what
-Obviously there isn’t always agreement on
those ideas and many of these values (ie shared
ideas about what is good and valuable) and
actual conditions don’t always match up
According to Dye (p 26), “no political value has been
more widely held in the US than individual liberty”…
In large part, our early history was shaped by the ideas
of Classical liberalism, which asserts the worth and
dignity of the individual.
There are two main components to Classical Liberalism:
a. Political liberty
-founders mostly adopted the language of Locke (ie on natural rights &
social contracts)
b. Economic freedom
-Characterized by capitalism (Dye, p 26) and the right to own property
In the early 1800s, a visiting French historian, Alexis de
Tocqueville, identified equality as a central American value that
distinguished the new nation from European countries.
American views of certain types of equality
Political Equality (legal v. political equality)
Equality of Opportunity (elimination of artificial barriers)
Equality of Results (= sharing of wealth)
Fairness (valued but no shared agreement)
According to Dye (p30), conflict in society
is generated more often by inequalities
among people than by hardship or
Question: how fair or equitably is wealth
distributed within the US capitalistic
economic system?
Here are a few ways of measuring wealth…Where
would you prefer to live based on these statistics?
As a poor person? As a wealthy person?
The essence of the American dream: that the opportunity
exists for every individual to move up the class ranks.
Question: how mobile really IS America? What does
Herrnstein & Murray’s “Bell Curve” show?
Bell Curve: Herrnstein & Murray argue that general intelligence
largely determines success in life, esp. in an “information society”;
also argue 60% of intellect is inherited and that programs to assist
the “underprivileged” are useless/counterproductive…what does this
have to do with social mobility and the possibility to rise?
“E Pluribus Unum” (from many, one)
Question: How are we one and how
are we as yet still many disparate
groups? Does EPU still mean
anything in 2010?
-In what ways is the population of the
United States changing?
-Implications of these trends on politics?
The United States is one of the most religious
societies in the world. Over 90 % of Americans
report in polls that they believe in God. Over 80%
say that prayer is part of their daily lives, and 60%
say that they attend church at least once a month.
Over 80% claim some religious affiliation.
Evangelical Protestants are the largest single group
and the fastest-growing. The following pie chart
gives a visual representation of this.