Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Authoritarianism and Polarization

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Interesting post by Paul Rosenberg, which begins:

This week, I’m going to be participating in a discussion of Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics at TPM Cafe.  I previously highlighted the following chart from the book in a pair of diaries, "Health Care, Racism & The Authoritarian Divide-Part 1" and "Hissy Fits In Historical Context–Health Care, Racism & The Authoritarian Divide-Part 2":

Bush-Vote-Physical-Discipline

That chart certainly caught my attention, in no uncertain terms.

In the book, the authors, Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler, explain:

Of course, we do not argue that preferences for disciplining children are causally related to individuals’ vote choice. It is absurd to think that spanking children led people to vote Republican in 2004. Indeed, if favoring corporal punishment actually caused people to vote for the more conservative candidate, liberals never would have been elected president. It is only very recently that alternatives to spanking children have been widely employed. Instead, support for spanking likely emanates from a particular worldview which that has a range of ramifications, including political ones.

By worldview, we mean a set of connected beliefs animated by some fundamental, underlying value orientation that is itself, connected to a visceral sense of right and wrong. Politics cleaved by a worldview has the potential for fiery disagreements because considerations about the correct way to lead a good life lie in the balance. Specifically, we demonstrate that American public opinion is increasingly divided along a cleavage that things like parenting styles and "manliness" map onto. We will call that cleavage authoritarianism.

Although authoritarianism in general has long been associated with the right, the authors refine their definition and their argument to such an extent that they capture a distinct phenomena that’s noticeably different from the broader race- and gender-based culture wars first set in motion in the 60s.  They focus on using the NES (National Election Study) four-item authoritarianism index introduced in 1992.  It asks people to choose between desired pairs of attributes in children:

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2009 at 10:33 am

Posted in Daily life, Politics

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