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Essay Questions

  1. Sociologists and political scientists who have studied social movements have identified some characteristics associated with social movements that have been successful in the past. List and discuss four characteristics discussed in the textbook.
    1. Sufficient financial resources to recruit and educate new members and to promote the desired policy outcomes in the general public.  
    2. Involving people and organizations with prior grassroots experience.  
    3. Identifying emotional issues to motivate people to participate.  
    4. Using a "micro-mobilization" approach.  
    5. The absence of crosscutting cleavages.
    6. Having a diverse and "co-optable" communications network.  
    7. Having capable and competent leadership.  
    8. Having an optimistic expectation.  
    9. Encouraging solidarity instead of free riding.  

  2. According to the textbook, what are three traditional methods of citizen political participation? List and discuss.
    1. Voting in elections
    2. Working on political campaigns for candidates or political parties, which could include convincing others how to vote, attending rallies or meetings, and fund-raising activities
    3. Communal activities such as working with groups to solve community problems or contacting governmental officials.  

  3. Discuss three points made in the U.S. Census study of voting in the 2004 general election.
    • Women are more likely to register to vote and vote in the election than men: 74 percent of women and 70 percent of men were registered to vote; 65 percent of women reported voting compared to 62 percent of men.
    • Voting rates were much higher for older-aged citizens when compared to younger voters — 72 percent of citizens 55 years and older voted in the election compared to 47 percent for the 18 to 24 age group; just under 80 percent of citizens 55 years and older were registered to vote as compared to 58 percent of the 18 to 24 year group.
      1. The higher the level of educational attainment, the more likely a citizen was to register and to vote; 77 percent of citizens with a bachelor's degree voted compared to 40 percent of those with a high school diploma.
      2. Citizens with higher incomes and who are fully employed are significantly more likely to register and vote than those of lower income and less than full employment.  A U.S. Census Bureau report notes the following in this regard: "The voting rate among citizens living in families with annual incomes of $50,000 or more was 77 percent, compared with 48 percent for citizens living in families with incomes under $20,000."i
      3. There are differences in the likelihood of voting among various ethnic and racial groups, with Non-Hispanic white citizens being significantly more likely to take part in elections as compared to Blacks and Hispanics.
    • There are also some regional differences in voter turnout, with citizens Women are more likely to register to vote and vote in the election than men: 74 percent of women and 70 percent of men were registered to vote; 65 percent of women reported voting compared to 62 percent of men.
    • Voting rates were much higher for older-aged citizens when compared to younger voters — 72 percent of citizens 55 years and older voted in the election compared to 47 percent for the 18 to 24 age group; just under 80 percent of citizens 55 years and older were registered to vote as compared to 58 percent of the 18 to 24 year group.
    • The higher the level of educational attainment, the more likely a citizen was to register and to vote; 77 percent of citizens with a bachelor's degree voted compared to 40 percent of those with a high school diploma.
    • Citizens with higher incomes and who are fully employed are significantly more likely to register and vote than those of lower income and less than full employment.  A U.S. Census Bureau report notes the following in this regard: "The voting rate among citizens living in families with annual incomes of $50,000 or more was 77 percent, compared with 48 percent for citizens living in families with incomes under $20,000."ii
    • There are differences in the likelihood of voting among various ethnic and racial groups, with Non-Hispanic white citizens being significantly more likely to take part in elections as compared to Blacks and Hispanics.
    • There are also some regional differences in voter turnout, with citizens in the Midwest states being more likely to register and vote when compared to other regions.

  4. Based on textbook reading in Chapter 4, identify and discuss three reasons it is important for state and local government to see increases in citizen participation.
    1. Voting and attentiveness to public affairs lies at the heart of the democratic principles on which the United States was built.
    2. Citizen participation provides legitimacy to state and local policy decisions to the extent that people recognize that their concerns were incorporated into the laws under which we all must live.
    3. Citizen engagement can increase the citizens' sense of attachment to the community and engender the "co-production" of public goods; that is, citizens promote the public welfare by voluntary actions motivated by a sense of civic duty (e.g., recycle to reduce solid waste, maintain safe lighting on private property, make donations to the Red Cross, United Way, community food banks and the like to provide for those in need).
    4. It helps to maintain and reinforce community networks and social connections, thus increasing the ability of communities and states to respond to natural and economic disasters.
    5. Heightened public participation also can lead to enhanced momentum to implement new policies and community initiatives needed to promote sustainability.

  5. According to Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, what are three benefits to vote-by-mail election systems?
    1. Vote-by-mail is voter-friendly, and high turnout in every vote-by-mail election shows that voters like the convenience.
    2. The procedure allows ample time to research issues.
    3. It also allows time to review and mark the ballot.
    4. Voting by mail eliminates the need to stand in long lines waiting for a polling booth.

  6. According to the textbook, list and discuss three arguments in favor of direct democracy.
    • It makes legislatures more responsive to public opinion (Gerber 1996).
    • It allows citizens to take their policy preferences directly to the public for action.
    • It stimulates public debate over important policy issues.
    • It increases citizen interest and, thus, participation in elections.
    • It contributes to higher levels of trust in government.


iIbid, p.5
iiIbid, p.5



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