Discovering Sociology: State & Politics

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    • 00:00


    • 00:03

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: When speaking of modern countries,it's convenient to think of them as nation-states.In the last 30 years, a sea changehas taken place in nation-states throughout the world.The Soviet Union dissolved, and along with China,moved from state-owned to privately-owned businesses,

    • 00:24

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS [continued]: industries, and farms.The Mideast has been transformed by rebellions and revolutionsand continues to be in turmoil today.The United States has seen more profound changes as well,including changes in voting patternsthat are profoundly affecting US politics.

    • 00:45

      DAINA S EGLITIS: In the US, voter participation rateshave tended to be lower than thosein many other modern democracies.In 2012, less than 58% of the voting age populationparticipated in the presidential election.In 2008 and 2004, those figures were about 57% and 56%

    • 01:06

      DAINA S EGLITIS [continued]: respectively.

    • 01:07

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: But voter turnout alsovaries depending on age, race, and social class.So for example, voter turnout variesby educational attainment with more educated US citizensvoting at a higher rate than less educated citizens,upper class citizens voting at a higher rate than the lower

    • 01:28

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS [continued]: classes.In the 2012 election, for the first time in history,a higher percentage of blacks than whitesvoted in the presidential election.

    • 01:39

      DAINA S EGLITIS: Voter participation alsovaries by age.The least likely among US citizens to choose to voteare young people.Those in the age categories 45 and overare far more likely to choose to cast a ballot.

    • 01:51

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: Sociologists,like their counterparts in the disciplineof political science, are interested in voterdemographics and in voter behavior.So a sociologist looking at the datawould be interested in understandingwhy young people have voted in substantially smaller numbersthan other age groups.

    • 02:14

      DAINA S EGLITIS: It's worth notingthat turnout among the young has been higher in the last twopresidential elections than it was in 2000 or 2004,for example.So there might, in fact, be two issues we want to explain.Why is turnout lower for younger Americansthan for older Americans, and whyhas voting among younger people grown, and might this trend

    • 02:35

      DAINA S EGLITIS [continued]: continue into the future?We examined both of these questions in chapter 13.

    • 02:41

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: Interestingly, a recent studyin the political behavior of young people in the UnitedStates found that they are generallynot apathetic about civic involvement.Many volunteer and express an eagerness to give back.At the same time, they do not seeminspired to translate that engagement into voting.

    • 03:05

      DAINA S EGLITIS: Of course, the youngare also less likely to be courted by candidates,who tailor messages to appeal to thosewho vote in larger numbers or donate more frequently.So young people may not feel like candidates and partiesspeak to them or their interests in a way thatinspires participation.

    • 03:23

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: Other factors are at play too.For example, data show that more young people vote when same dayregistration is available.Think for a moment about this.What would you conclude from these data?

    • 03:38

      DAINA S EGLITIS: Remember, too, however,that recent elections have seen a small uptick in younger voteractivity, so how might we explain that?Could it be linked to other trends like online activism?What do you think?

    • 03:51

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: Voting is just one of many waysin which politics and policy are influenced in this country.Before a voter casts their ballot,politicians, parties, and political activistsdetermine who will be on that ballot.

    • 04:13

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS [continued]: They have already made that decision.

    • 04:15

      DAINA S EGLITIS: And because running for office in the USis very expensive, large donors to campaignsmay also have a disproportionate influenceon later policy decisions made by an elected official.

    • 04:26

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS: Politics is about power,and power is a key concept if youhave an interest in sociological studies.Sociologists want to know who has the power.How is it exercised?Who benefits from the exercise of power?How do those with power seek to hang on to it?

    • 04:49

      WILLIAM J CHAMBLISS [continued]: From a sociological perspective, the keyto understanding conflicts in a countryis to understand the power structure and how it changes.As in the Soviet Union, China, the Middle East, and the UnitedStates, power structures are dynamic and change constantlyas people struggle to create and change the world they live in.

    • 05:13

      DAINA S EGLITIS: Politics affects all of us.Chapter 13 will offer insights into the politics exercisedat the micro level through acts like voting and politicsexercised at the macro level like the enactment of policiesthat may have positive effects for some groupsand negative ones for others.Let's get started.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Discovering Sociology: State & Politics

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Professors Daina Eglitis and William Chambliss discuss politics and how overall voter behavior has changed in recent years.

Discovering Sociology: State & Politics

Professors Daina Eglitis and William Chambliss discuss politics and how overall voter behavior has changed in recent years.

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