Definition of concepts • A concept is a political phenomenon that varies from low to high • It is unidimensional
Examples of concepts? • Democracy • Political tolerance • Culture • Intelligence • Interpersonal trust • Self esteem • Pluralism • Germany • Federalism
Units: time, people or places • Units are the observations, which are placed on the unidimensional concept scale according to their low or high values • People are more or less politically tolerant • Countries are more or less democratic • Years have higher or lower rates of crime rates • People are more likely to litigate • Countries can have higher or lower rates of litigation
Variables • Variables are the operationalizations of concepts • As researchers, we develop a systematic scheme for applying numbers to units • When we do this, we have a variable
Examples of variables.What are the possible units? • Murder rate • Litigation rate • Support for freedom of speech • Income • Party identification • Liberalism
What is not a variable? • Speed of light • Parameters • Statistics These are called constants. • Some political phenomena can be concepts and variables for some units but not for others. • September 11th is not a variable with people as the unit.
Political tolerance as a concept • Political tolerance is a concept that indicates how much support people have for the civil liberties and rights of their most hated political group. • It is not racial tolerance. • Notice that to “tolerate” something, you have to, by definition, not like it.
Operationalization of political tolerance If your worst political enemy (i.e. Nazi’s, KKK) came to your town, would you support their right to march downtown? Not support at all Not really support Somewhat support Strongly support 4 1 2 3