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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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The Data Are Not Given: Perspectives, Political Trust, and the 2000 Elections

The Data Are Not Given: Perspectives, Political Trust, and the 2000 Elections

(p.147) Chapter 7 The Data Are Not Given: Perspectives, Political Trust, and the 2000 Elections
Talking about Politics
University of Chicago Press

This chapter illustrates the way in which small groups of people interpret politics with socially rooted perspectives through an analysis of interpretations of a major political event, the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. It analyzes conversations about the outcome among the “Old Timers” in the study and among a group of African Americans who sit on the other side of the store. In particular, It focuses on the implications of their different interpretations for their perceptions of trust in government. The investigation reveals that the information people use to update their attitudes toward government is not a given but is, instead, perceived through identity-based perspectives. These analyses show how the perspectives people use to communicate coincide with very different interpretations of the same event. In addition, the chapter demonstrates that explaining political interpretations on the basis of partisanship is insufficient for understanding how two people can view the very same event in starkly divergent ways. It concludes that the theories of the dynamics of attitudes such as political trust can be enhanced by attention to socially rooted perspectives.

Keywords:   political interpretation, 2000 presidential election, Old Timers, African Americans, political trust, social roots

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