Addressing problems through collective action.

Step 1: Respond to the following: The political culture of the U.S. favors individualism. Yet, in spite of all that, the U.S. government can be described as a welfare state, which is one in which government agencies and programs provide benefits to the population, from “cradle to grave.” Importantly, a majority of U.S. adults look to government for at least part of their income, including corporate subsidies and support, and one in seven people in the U.S. is a government employee. Discuss how the U.S. norm of individualism can be reconciled to the welfare state. Is the solution simply to dismantle the welfare state? What might be the consequences? Discuss this from the perspective of both the structural-functional and the social-conflict approaches.

Step 2: Respond to the following: Do you think the reluctance of people in the U.S. to address problems through collective action shows that people are basically satisfied with their lives? Or that they think individuals acting together can’t make a difference?

Step 3: Respond to the following: Common-sense and media perspectives on terrorism emphasize its irrational nature. For example, terrorists are often characterized as disturbed or deviant individuals and their acts are framed as senseless reflections of pure hatred. Based on this unit, discuss how it might be possible to see those same acts as reasonable and sensible, at least to terrorists themselves? What leads groups to see terrorism as a logical, appropriate social movement strategy? What leads other groups to frame it differently?

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