U3: American Political Ideologies and Beliefs

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

H.L. Mencken

Be sure to visit the Course Calendar for nightly readings, upcoming due dates, etc. 


  1. How are the variety of beliefs held by individual citizens that form the foundation of U.S. political culture formed, how do they evolve, and by what processes are they transmitted?
  2. Why do U.S. citizens hold certain beliefs about politics, and how families, schools and the media act to perpetuate or change these beliefs?
  3. In what ways does political culture affect and inform political participation? (For example, students should know that individuals often engage in multiple forms of participation, including voting, protests, and mass movements. Students should understand both why individuals engage in various forms of political participation and how that participation affects the political process. Note: this is a Free-Response question #2 in the 2003 exam)
  4. What leads citizens to differ from one another in their political beliefs and behaviors, and what are the political consequences of these differences?
  5. What are the demographic features of the American population, and how do the beliefs and behavior systems held by specific ethnic, minority and other groups affect their view of the political process?

Key Terms (quizlet)

  • Americanism
  • Civic competence
  • Civic duty
  • Class consciousness
  • Culture war
  • Efficacy
  • Equality of opportunity
  • External efficacy
  • Internal efficacy
  • Orthodox
  • Political culture
  • Political efficacy
  • Political ideology
  • Progressive
  • Rights
  • Secular
  • Work ethic
  • Conservative
  • Elite
  • Exit polls
  • Gender gap
  • John Q. Public
  • Liberal
  • Libertarians
  • Middle America
  • New Class
  • Norm
  • Partisanship
  • Political Elites
  • Political ideology
  • Political socialization
  • Poll
  • Public opinion
  • Pure conservatism
  • Pure liberalism
  • Random sample
  • Religious tradition
  • Sampling error
  • Silent majority
  • Activist
  • Australian ballot
  • Campaigners
  • Communalists
  • Complete activists
  • Fifteenth amendment
  • Grandfather clause
  • Inactives
  • Literacy test
  • Motor-voter bill
  • Nineteenth amendment
  • Parochial participants
  • Poll tax
  • Registered voters
  • Twenty-sixth amendment
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Voting-age population
  • Voting specialists
  • White primary

Main Topics

1. Political Culture

2. Public Opinion

3. Political Participation