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Arguement - Essay Example

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Henry Nabea Proffessor # Political Science 03 Nov. 2012 Change in American Politics Many theories can be advanced to explain the increasing indifference and apathy among many American citizens towards politics. Nowadays, fewer Americans are actively involved in national politics, unlike in the last few decades…
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Download file to see previous pages Schier argues that this passivity among many citizens is due to change of politics from mobilization, as a method of winning power, support and control, to activation (7). Skocpol, on the other hand, explains the phenomenon in terms of change of American associational life (7-8). But a critical analysis and review of the two theories reveals that Schier’s theory is more plausible, while Skocpol’s theory is weak, untenable and highly flawed. To better expose the many flaws in Skocpol’s theory, let us first look in detail the different positions held by the two scholars. To begin with, let us look at the theory of Schier. Schier begins his argument by making a distinction between the terms mobilization, and activation. He defines mobilization as ‘’ the partisan method of stimulating very high turnout in elections during the peak party power that lasted from 1876-1892’’ (7). In contrast, he defines activation as, ‘’ the more contemporary method that parties, interest groups, and candidates employ to induce particular, finely targeted portions of public to become active in elections, demonstrations, and lobbying’’ (7). Schier goes on to show in detail how these two processes of winning power and control differ (8-9). First, the two processes differ in focus, whereby mobilization is inclusive while activation is exclusive and for a select few. Secondly, the two processes differ in agent or source of stimulation of the public, while mobilization was a heavily partisan process, dominated by strong party organizations and party messages, in activation thousands of different organisation and individuals attempt activation. Thirdly, the two processes differ in method. Mobilization involved broad appeals carried out through personal conversation, while activation is research driven and targets particular individuals. Lastly, the processes differ in their strategy, mobilization seeks to mobilise as many people as possible to help the given candidate to win elections, while activation targets just a small, well-informed segment of the society to advance a certain goal, for example to help in polls. As it can be seen from the above explanation, activation alienates some people, as it were, from the active politics, since it aims only at a particular, few members of the society while leaving out the vast majority of the society. This exclusion of some members, more often than not, leads to the ‘’inactivated’’ and excluded members of society becoming inactive and passive in politics. Skocpol, on the other hand, understood the cause of the increasing decline in active participation in national politics by the Americans, as the result of decline in American associational life. In the contemporary America, exclusive elite, and professionally managed organisations have replaced the former organisations of the last few decades which had open membership to all citizens, irrespective of one’s social class. The emergence of progressive movements in America played a big role in the change of associational life in America. Skocpol’s theory hinges on two main claims. First, she holds that in American society, social organisations and politics are closely related, such that change in associational life of the society would invariably lead to change in civic life. She goes on to argue that, over the last few decades, American social life has greatly changed, and this has led to the change in American social civic life (6). Unlike in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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