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This week, in our peer-reviewed readings, we continue to think about the relationship between stress and voter turnout. Here we are thinking about specific stressors that people may undergo and the ways in which these stressors may weigh into their decisions to vote or not vote in an election.
Here, again, we may have some vague inklings of what these relationships might look like. Perhaps if you are a single mom, and you are preoccupied with having a job, taking care of your children and your house, and dealing with everyday events like having car trouble or helping your aged parents, then voting might be something that falls by the wayside in your busy life.
Why does this matter? Because if that is the case, then our democracy may end up being less representative – People who are poor or busy or preoccupied end up not having their views registered or taken into account by decision-makers. In contrast, a stay-at-home mom with children in school might have more time to read online discussions about politics and might be more involved not only in voting but even in working for her local political party. She might have a higher sense of efficacy or the feeling that she can actively make a difference in politics. In contrast, the single mom might feel ALIENATED from the political system.
So, when politicians talk about how to get people more involved in politics, some of them want to think more deeply about this question – asking not just ‘how do we get people to turn out for the polls on November 3?” but also asking “Why do some people get turned off politics and when does this occur?” It doesn’t occur on November 3, surely, but rather might occur when these potential voters are still adolescents or even children. If that’s the case, then getting people involved in politics doesn’t just mean offering someone a ride to the polls, but thinking more deeply about factors like literacy, which affects people’s ability to read and consume news, etc. Or like Dr. Agyapong, you might want to think about representation. Does it matter if voters see ‘people like them’ (same race, gender, age, social status, etc.) participating in politics?
Julianna Pacheco has spent a lot of time thinking about this question – about the sorts of advantages or disadvantages (we might even use the word privilege) which people seem to accrue in life, from being born middle class to being born to a two-parent family, to being born to a family which speaks the majority language (English) at home. In her work, she asks us to think about cumulative disadvantage or the notion that lots of little factors (like the ones described above) can “add up” with each one building upon the other, ultimately affecting how people act and participate in society.
Read Pacheco & Plutzer (2008) Political Participation and Cumulative Disadvantage Pacheco & Plutzer (2008) Political Participation and Cumulative Disadvantage – Alternative Formats
1. Write three sentences about the data source – the National Education Longitudinal Survey. What is it? How is the data gathered? Who administers it? Begin by reading this short (1 page) article about the NELS: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/nels88/design.asp
2. Describe the “civic/political” cycle of poverty (p. 572) in your own words
3. On p. 573, the authors critique the use of the variable SES. What is the basis of their criticism?
4. What are income effects? What is the relationship between income and voter turnout? (p. 573)
5. What do we know about turnout rates for single mothers? (P. 573)
6. What is the contradiction which Pacheco and Plutzer identify on p. 574?
7. What is political socialization and how does it affect voter turnout? (p. 575)
8. “Translate” the paragraph on p. 578 (which begins with ‘the second possibility”) into your own words.
9. Look at page 583: What do tables 2 and 3 tell us about relationships between variables?
List 3 sets of two variables that appear strongly correlated, and two that do not.
10. Finish writing the following paragraph (which you might want to include in your literature review on your final project):
“While some analysts have written about major life stressors (like war or famine or natural disasters) and their effects on voter turnout, other analysts like Pacheco and Plutzer have asked about individual life events. Pacheco and Plutzer’s work illustrates. . . .”
Answer the following questions and be sure to number the question you are answering please use the following textbooks as a reference:
Powner, C. L. (2015). Empirical Research and Writing: A Political Science Student’s Practical Guide.
Sage. ISBN: 978-1-4833-6963-1.
Howard, C. (2017). Thinking Like a Political Scientist. University of Chicago Press. ISBN:
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