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Political Participation


Communication is vital to politics. Framers recognized value of independent press ... Poll tax required citizens to pay before they could vote abolished in 1964 for ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Political Participation

Political Participation
What is it?
  • Political participation is simply any activity
    which is designed to influence public opinion or
  • Can be direct or indirect, individual or

Features of Participation
  • Participation is hierarchical in the sense that
    it is a cost vs. benefit situation greater
    investment of political resources ends up in
    fewer people being involved
  • Political activity is also cumulative in that
    those who participate in higher-cost activities
    add them on to what already exists

Political Socialization
  • Political socialization is the process by which
    we learn about political culture and form our
    beliefs about politics
  • Major agents include family, environment,
    schools, churches and the mass media

Media and Its Effects on Participation
  • Communication is vital to politics
  • Framers recognized value of independent press
  • Media serves by
  • Influencing policy debate
  • Acting as a watchdog
  • Linking government to its constituency

The Media and Policy Agenda
  • Agenda setting means that the media select which
    events to cover and how extensively to cover them
  • Criteria media uses includes
  • Significance of impact on audience
  • Interest factor
  • Familiarity
  • Proximity to audience
  • Timeliness

The Media and Policy Agenda
  • Successful impact on public interest may result
    in agenda building
  • Many commentators believe that the
    policy-building role of the press is overstated
    in Texas
  • Issue-attention cycle includes pre-public phase,
    slow coverage building to intensity and policy

The Media and Electoral Process
  • Most campaigning relies now on electronic media,
    with sound bites providing most of what public
  • Some believe that issues have been ignored in
    favor of reporting on the campaigning itself
  • Most appearances are designed with news coverage
    in mind

The Media and Electoral Process
  • Horse race approach means that coverage is on
    polls rather than issues
  • Much advertising in recent campaigns has been of
    the negative television variety
  • Access to candidates has become tightly
    controlled, lest the candidates be caught in some
    public pronunciation that would put them in the

Down-ballot Coverage
  • Most Texas news organizations do a poor job of
    covering state down-ballot races, mostly due to
    logistics and funding
  • Local elections are often ignored as well, unless
    there is a big news reason (finances, taxes,

Increasing Participation
  • Linkage
  • Understanding alternatives
  • Self-confidence
  • Realization of outcome without activity
  • Belief in relevant skills or knowledge
  • Belief in realistic investment of political

Strategies in Participating
  • Lobbying (more on that momentarily)
  • Attending public hearings
  • Direct contact with policy makers
  • Being involved in elections, either in personal
    contact (retail politics) or giving for ads
    (wholesale politics)
  • Demonstrations

Things That Can Effect Process
  • Powells Paradox despite predisposition to
    involvement through organizations and heightened
    sense of process, we have a lower rate of voting
    than most other industrialized nations

Things That Can Effect Process
  • Poll tax required citizens to pay before they
    could vote abolished in 1964 for federal
    elections by passage of the 24th amendment and by
    Texas in 1966
  • White Primary (1923) was designed to eliminate
    African-American participation in Democratic
    primary. Held unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme
    Court in 1927, but legislature authorized state
    executive committees to establish qualifications,
    and Dems adopted white primary. Ruled
    unconstitutional in 1932.

Things That Can Effect Process
  • Restrictive Registration until 1971, required
    annual registration between 10/1 and 1/31 each
    year. Now permanent registration, up to 30 days
    prior to election day
  • Property Ownership declared unconstitutional

Things That Can Effect Process
  • Women given right to vote in primaries and party
    conventions in 1918. In 1919, Texas approved the
    19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote
  • Age limit lowered to 18 by 26th Amendment

Institutions That Can Mobilize
  • Political parties
  • In most countries candidates are nominated by
    party leaders, and government is controlled by
    party while in power
  • We use voters to choose candidates and parties
    have no control over government once its elected

Institutions That Can Mobilize
  • Labor Unions
  • Lets talk about the free riders
  • Whats your view of having to belong to a union
    to work in a company?
  • Now, what about having part of your union dues
    sent to political parties or candidates you do
    not support? Still a free rider

Brazos County Results
Year Registered Voted Percent
1988 64,143 44,690 69.67
1990 56,949 32,886 57.75
1992 60,915 49,334 80.99
1994 58,036 32,641 56.24
1996 70,204 38,644 55.05
1998 76,095 26,237 34.48
2000 46,941
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