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Talking about PoliticsInformal Groups and Social Identity in American Life$
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Katherine Cramer Walsh

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226872186

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226872216.001.0001

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Introduction: The Public's Part of Public Discussion

Introduction: The Public's Part of Public Discussion

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 Introduction: The Public's Part of Public Discussion
Source:
Talking about Politics
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226872216.003.0001

This chapter argues that informal interaction should not be overlooked, because it is a way in which people collectively develop fundamental tools of political understanding. Political scientists have given the act of understanding politics, also referred to as the act of interpreting or making sense of politics, far less attention than the act of evaluating or making political choices. In analyzing processes of interpretation, the dependent variable is no longer preferences but perspectives. Preferences are attitudes about particular issues. Perspectives are the lenses through which people view issues. Some aspects of a person's perspective or outlook on life are not necessarily tied to their social context. Yet, how people look at the world is grounded in where they place themselves in relation to others. Social identities are not just one component of worldviews. Instead, we see the world through ideas of where we place ourselves in relation to others.

Keywords:   informal interaction, political understanding, political choices, perspective, preferences, social identities

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