In these critical reflection assignments I am going to ask you to read an article, watch a video, or play a simulation, and then answer a few questions about it. In this first one you will be reading

In these critical reflection assignments I am going to ask you to read an article, watch a video, or play a simulation, and then answer a few questions about it. In this first one you will be reading an article by Colin Woodard, a political journalist. It’s very similar to Elazar’s theory of the three political cultures, but it expands on it a bit. Start by rereading pages 6 to 11 in the book so you have Elazar’s theory to compare it to. Then read Woodard’s piece titled “Up In Arms”. While much of the piece is about violence, there is also quite a bit embedded in it about political culture, which is the piece we are most interested in. I’ve copied it below and also linked to it, although sometimes the link seems to go down.

Once you’ve read them both, I’d like you to write a minimum 300 word reflection that covers the following (it can be more than 300 words as there’s no maximum; just a minimum):

1) What is Woodard’s main argument in this piece? What evidence does he use to support it?

2) How does Woodard’s theory differ from Elazar’s?

3) Do you Woodard’s theory compelling and believable? Why or why not? Which of these regions have you lived in (if any)? Does Woodard’s description of that region sound accurate to your experience living there?

4) How does knowing about this theory change the way you look at the country? How does this help you study the variation in states?

5) Does one of these eleven political cultures speak to you the most? In other words, which one seems to be the closest to what you currently think about government and politics?


For each of the five questions above, you can receive up to 5 points each:

5 points: Fully answers the question and offers supporting evidence.

4 points: Either misses a small part of a question, lacks some evidence, or has some small factual inaccuracies.

3 points: Does not answer a part of a question or lacks evidence or has moderate factual inaccuracies.

Less than 3 points: Has substantial factual inaccuracies or fails to address the question.

You can also receive up to 5 points for the quality and clarity of the writing.

Paper Structure/Citations

You can set up your paper however you would like. If you would like to answer each question one at a time, that is fine (in other words you do not have to write this as a formal essay with a thesis statement or anything like that). If you are using information from the book or the included article you do not need to cite it, unless you directly quote it, in which case you should put it in direct quotes and say something like: According to Woodard, “XYZ”. If you use any outside sources other than the book or the article, you should absolutely cite it. You may use any citation system you would like – MLA, APA, Chicago, etc. – so long as you are consistent.

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