Citizen Politics in America

By: Harvard University
Free
Beginner, Intermediate,
Duration: 4 Weeks

Course Name: America Public Opinion, Elections, Interest Groups, and the Media

Learn About Citizen Politics in America

Learn about the forces in American politics that seek to influence the electorate and shift the political landscape.

Public opinion has a powerful yet inexact influence on elected officials. Politicians risk their careers if they ignore it, yet its power is not easy to capture nor quantify. This course will look at how political parties, campaigns, social movements, special interests, and the news media all play a role in influencing public opinion.

Examine the attributes of public opinion, how polling attempts to measure those attributes, and how they impact the decisions of policymakers. We’ll address the unique features of the two-party system in the U.S., how those parties realign themselves in response to shifting norms, and how their candidates are vetted behind the scenes before the start of a campaign.

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Course ByInstructor
Harvard UniversityThomas E. Patterson

Course Details

Course Content

  • Public Opinion: This session will examine the attributes of public opinion and explore its impact on the decisions of policymakers—a subject that has been closely studied by political scientists. We will also explain the theory and practice of polling, which has become the primary method of assessing public opinion.
  • Political Parties: Unlike most democracies, the United States has a two-party system, the Republicans and the Democrats. This session will examine this feature of the U.S. party system and will explain the nature of today’s Republican and Democratic parties. Party realignments will be a focus of the session.
  • Campaigns & Elections: This session will begin with a look at the presidential nominating process, which includes what’s called the “invisible primary” along with the primaries and caucuses. The focus will then shift to the general election campaign, which centers on the battleground states—those that are competitive enough to be won by either candidate.
  • Political Movements: This session will examine the factors affecting the success of political movements, such as their ability to attract the resources required for sustained advocacy. Four cases will be used to illustrate the significance of these factors: the black civil rights movement, the Vietnam War protest movement, the Tea Party movement, and Occupy Wall Street.
  • Interest Groups: This session will examine interest groups, focusing on group influence and why some interests are more influential and fully organized than others. The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, enacted in response to the economic downturn that began in 2008, will be used to illustrate key points about group influence.
  • News Media: This session will examine the news media’s influence on politics, focusing on the extraordinary changes that have taken place in the news system in recent decades and on the consequences of those changes. The U.S. news system was once dominated by the television broadcast networks and local newspapers. Today, they have to compete with cable and Internet outlets, many of which operate by a different standard. News coverage of Trump’s and Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaigns will be used to illustrate key points.


What you will learn?

  • The theory and practice of polling
  • The nature of today’s Republican and Democratic parties
  • How U.S. elections differ from those of other democracies
  • Key points of the 2016 Trump-Clinton race
  • Why social movements succeed or fail
  • How the news system has changed in recent decades

Other Details

This course will help you to understand how these forces shape American politics, from “invisible primaries” to election day and beyond.

Outside of the formal organization of party politics, groups representing various interests aim to affect a change through the political system. Special interest groups resemble political parties, but while parties try to influence elections, groups concentrate on gaining influence over policies.

Meanwhile, social movements take place outside these established institutions, often in the form of protest demonstrations and rallies. All of these interests are filtered through the news media, which plays a critical role in shaping people’s images of politics.

 

Course Instructor

Thomas E. Patterson: Bradlee Professor of Government & The Press

Check Course Content, Faqs, Rating and other important information about this course.

Details here


Disclaimer

We have tried to provide the best updated information about this Citizen Politics in America course. However, if you find this course is not available or if there are any changes to this free course of Citizen Politics in America then do let us know. Our team will make the necessary changes.



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