Minority Politics and Ideologies in the United States

Minority Politics and Ideologies in the United States

Minority Politics and Ideologies in the United States

Minority Politics and Ideologies in the United States

Excerpt

The politics of minorities or the powerless have often been ignored in the study of interest-group politics in the United States. Minorities are generally those who do not have the resources, skills, knowledge, or organizational base to create the kinds of dependencies that characterize the politics of such powerful monied interests as oil, banking, or agriculture. Studies that do discuss the politics of the powerless tend to focus on tactics the powerless use to achieve material or legal gains and evaluate success in terms of whether these gains were reached. While this study will discuss and evaluate such tactics, the most significant aspect of minority politics lies in the ability of minorities to alter the psychological, conceptual, and ideological syndromes that legitimate and maintain the character of widely accepted superordinate-subordinate relationships within the society.

Basic to this thesis is the assumption that the legitimation of authority in a society occurs through mechanisms and interactions that do not lie exclusively in the realm of articulated ideology but also include established patterns of interaction and equally important established patterns of nondiscourse and noninteraction. Formal sets of articulated assumptions that fit together with some degree of internal logic to explain and justify political authority are, if widely held in the society, supported by largely unconscious, unarticulated patterns of interaction, customs, and manners. In other words, universes of meaning correspond to and are supported by universes of practice. Each influences the other in that a change in one will induce a change in the other. Whereas the dominant have no occasion to recognize this fact in their political activities, the interrelationship between institutionalized or habitual interactions and articulated ideologies that justify such practices defines the context within which minority political activity takes place.

Minorities operate on two levels in contributing to political change. Because of their subordinate position, minorities can see the dominant and the dominant ideologies in a way that the dominant do not. They . . .

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