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American Government, Ninth Edition
James Q. Wilson
John J. DiIulio, Jr., University of Pennsylvania
Chapter Focus
Chapter 4: American Political Culture

This chapter departs rather sharply from the previous ones, which focused on the legal and historical aspects of American government, and concentrates instead on the somewhat less concrete notion of political culture, or the inherited set of beliefs, attitudes, and opinions people (in this case, Americans) have about how their government ought to operate. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, you should be able to do each of the following:
  1. Define what scholars mean by political culture, and list some of the dominant aspects of political culture in the United States.

  2. Discuss how U.S. citizens compare with those of other countries in their political attitudes.

  3. List the contributions to U.S. political culture made by the Revolution, by the nation's religious heritages, and by the family. Explain the apparent absence of class consciousness in this country.

  4. Explain why some observers are quite concerned about the growth of mistrust in government and why others regard this mistrust as normal and healthy.

  5. Define internal and external feelings of political efficacy, and explain how the level of each of these has varied over the past generation.

  6. Explain why a certain level of political tolerance is necessary in the conduct of democratic politics, and review the evidence that indicates just how much political tolerance exists in this country. Agree or disagree with the text's conclusion that no group is truly free of political intolerance.



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