Political Culture for AP U.S. Government (page 3)

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Ideology: A Political Spectrum

  • radical—favors rapid, fundamental change in existing social, economic, or political order; may be willing to resort to extreme means, even violence or revolution to accomplish such change (extreme change to create an entirely new social system)
  • liberal—supports active government in promoting individual welfare and supporting civil rights, and accepts peaceful political and social change within the existing political system
  • moderate—political ideology that falls between liberal and conservative and which may include some of both; usually thought of as tolerant of others' political opinions and not likely to hold extreme views on issues
  • conservative—promotes a limited governmental role in helping individuals economically, supports traditional values and lifestyles, favors a more active role for government in promoting national security, and approaches change cautiously
  • reactionary—advocates a return to a previous state of affairs, often a social order or government that existed earlier in history (may be willing to go to extremes to achieve their goals)


  • A political culture is a set of basic values and beliefs about a country or government that is shared by most citizens.
  • America is a heterogeneous (diverse) society with many political cultures.
  • Democracy is not guaranteed. In order to ensure democracy, political concepts must be practiced.
  • Political socialization is the process of citizens acquiring a political identity. Several factors influence the process of political socialization.
  • Public opinion is a collection of ideas and attitudes about government that are shared by the general public.
  • Public opinion is shaped by an individual's political culture and political socialization.
  • Public opinion polls are the most reliable measure of public opinion.
  • Modern polling began in the 1930s with George Gallup. Today, polling is more scientific and based on statistical analysis.
  • An ideology is a consistent set of beliefs. A political ideology is beliefs based on politics and public policy.
  • Ideological placement on a political spectrum may include classification as radical, liberal, moderate, conservative, or reactionary.

Test your knowledge with these practice questions:

Political Culture Review Questions for AP U.S. Government

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