UCLA Cultural Opportunities and Political Opportunities Discussion

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1) Thinking back to the concepts of cultural opportunities and political opportunities (lecture 6), think of a time when a shift in popular ideas or a shift in power helped make it possible for a troubling condition to be addressed. Provide an overview of the troubling condition, cultural or political opportunity, and the shift after the cultural or political opportunity. Examples can be historical or from current events, from local or international contexts.

2)  Design your own audit study to measure labor market issues (see studies in lecture 7). What population(s) would be the focus of your study? What type of labor market sector? What type of instrument (e.g. resumes, matched pairs of people, etc)? What research question would you ask? How would your study be a useful expansion on the studies reviewed in lecture 7?

Instructions: Please review the two discussion questions below, provide a response for one of them. 

One well-known troubling condition that happened during the first half of the 20th century was segregation through Jim Crow Laws. In the southern states, people who were colored were forcefully separated by law from white people. This included separate restaurants, bathrooms, schools, and even different rights. Colored people were seen as second-class citizens for decades until the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement happened during the late 1950s and early 1960s and the activists within this movement advocated for equal rights between black people and white people. They believed that being separate but equal was not possible and that black people deserved to have all the rights white people had. The outcome of this movement led to the end of segregation, the end of Jim Crow Laws, Voting Rights, and many other laws that explicitly made discrimination illegal.

One way the Civil Rights Movement was able to succeed in the fight against oppression was because the culture of the United States was changing. The United States was slowly starting to become more progressive and the Civil Rights Movement was able to attract members that were conscience constituents. This means they were able to have people help them that weren’t going to directly benefit from the movement but they wanted to help anyway because they were more progressive and sympathetic to their cause. The Civil Rights Movement was also able to benefit from a political opportunity as well. As stated in a previous lecture, during the time of the Civil Rights Movement countries in Africa were starting to gain independence from the countries that colonized them. This political opportunity caused black people to internalize Africa’s decolonization and protest against their own unjust government.

1) An example in a shift in cultural attitude is drunk driving. While drunk driving began as something that people viewed as harmless, over time the attitude towards this shifted, and now it is a very serious offense. Due to shift in technology, cars have been manufactured to be more fast. Because of the change in car speed, the risk of accidents increased causing car accident deaths to skyrocket. The cultural attitude towards alcohol has shifted over the course of many years. For some time there was a casual attitude regarding alcohol, which eventually gave rise to the prohibition era, where alcohol was illegal. Prohibition did not last, and eventually alcohol became legal again, however there were many constraints, including the legal age to drink being increased to 21. Criminalizing drunk driving followed as part of a cultural shift in attitude towards alcohol because the number of alcohol deaths opened peoples eyes to a troubling condition.

Once aware of the troubling condition, peoples attitudes toward alcohol began to shift. Instead of taking driving under the influence lightly people began to see it as a serious offense. Since 1961 drinking and driving has become an offense, however not many people were actually punished for it, as well as the limit was a high BAC. President Clinton reduced the legal blood alcohol limit as highway funds were being withdrawn due to the severity of the problem, and how common drunk driving was.

After this shift in political attitude, all 50 states adopted this law, with even harsher laws for individuals under 21. Because of stricter legislation, and harsher punishment for the offense, peoples attitude toward drunk driving shifted heavily and it no longer was taken lightly. Because of the risk of serious punishment, people began to take this seriously. The current culture is very against drunk driving, especially with the widespread availability of ride share apps like Uber. Because of this strong cultural attitude people are more reluctant to drink and drive.

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