Citizenship- Theme 2- Power,politics and the media

A summary of the 2nd theme of the Edexcel Citizenship Studies textbook

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Theme 2- Power, politics and the media

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Media representations

  • Popular newspapers (The Sun, The Daily Express, The Daily Mirror) like to have fun with headlines, and often seem biased. They include large headlines and pictures, and use a chatty style
  • Quality newspapers (The Times, The Guardian, The Independent) usually have more sober and serious headlines, nut still have biased views. They deal with news in detail, and have  a formal style
  • Both popular and quality papers are often biased- The Daily Telegraph support the Conservative party and The Guardian backs Labour
  • Bias is obvious in internet blogs, where individuals openly state their point of view
  • The BBC Charter requires terrestrial broadcasters (BBC) and independent channels (ITV and Channel 4) to be fair and unbiased; they are regulated by Ofcom to make sure they comply to the Broadcasting Code
  • Empathy is putting yourself in the position of someone else to help you understand their thoughts or behaviours
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Issues and news agendas

  • Newspapers campaign for certain issues, but sometimes exaggerate benefits or dangers to promote a viewpoint
  • The media will not stick to an opinion that is not popular with the audience. If public view changes, the media will reflect this
  • All parts of the media are subject to censorship, to control on grounds of public safety and decency
  • A DA notice is an official request to newspaper editors to avoid sensitive subjects.
  • The media must also obey the law of defamation- when a person's reputation is damaged due to someone talking (slander) or writing (libel) about them
  • The media must respect a person right to liberty and family life
  • The Press Complaints Commission investigates complaints against all published media (who comply to a Code of Practice)
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Public debate and policy formation

  • When new laws are passed, the government can't assume that everyone will understand the law change and will agree with it
  • Proposed laws are discussed on websites, on radio and the television, and the Government hold frequent consultations to make new laws more acceptable
  • Once a law is passed, the media is used to tell people that the law is in force
  • During elections, TV programmes have to be unbiased as they have to adhere to the impartiality agreement, but newspapers reflect the opinion of the owners or editors
  • If a political party is less well funded, its message is less likely to reach the public
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Influencing public opinion

  • Companies and organisations use opinion leaders (eg. a celebrity) in their advertisements to influence us
  • Pressure groups (eg. Greenpeace) promote their causes and concerns through the media
  • Popular papers have a large readership, but readers may buy them for sport or gossip, so they have may not have a great influence
  • Quality papers have a low readership, but readers are often decision makers or opinion leaders, so they may have a larger influence
  • An opinion poll is used to fins out what the public thinks about an issue. The findings may be used to change the views of others
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Crime: rising or falling?

  • Police records show that crime has fallen from 5.52 million in 2005-06 to 5.42 million in 2006-07
  • The British Crime Survey says that 1/2 of crimes committed were never reported
  • This could be because not all crimes are noticeable, the crime may not be "important" enough, and the victim may be embarrassed or know the criminal
  • Most crimes were committed by males (80%) in 2006, and young people are most often victims of crime
  • Sometimes there is a difference between what you feel to be wrongs and what is illegal
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Reducing crime

  • 73% of offenders were not caught in 2006- only 27% of crimes are detected
  • There are 160,000 police and 100,000 support staff in the UK. The police investigate crime, are responsible for traffic management, help at sporting event/demonstrations and deal with and prevent terrorism
  • The police are criticised because crime detection rates are low, people think they act without all the facts and  are apparently racist
  • Youth Offending Teams (YTO's) try to prevent offending behaviour by people aged 10-17
  • The National Probation Service (NPS) supervises drug rehabilitation and community service. People who complete community service are 14% less likely to re-offend than those who go to prison
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Courts at work

  • The judge decides points of law, keeps order and decides sentences
  • The Jury is a group of 12 citizens who hear evidence and decide whether the accused is guilty or innocent
  • The defence team support the accused and the prosecution team are against
  • The magistrate courts deal with the majority of court cases (98%) and also act as youth courts
  • Crown Courts deal with more serious cases and decide sentences if the magistrates are not strong enough
  • The High Court deals mainly with civil cases
  • Solicitors do general law work and barristers specialise in one area of law (eg. family, criminal or contract law)
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Crime and punishment

  • Many offenders might avoid crime if they were helped to get skills or qualifications or to get a job
  • Grendon prison has a low re-offending rate as rehabilitates criminals by giving them meetings with psychotherapists and staff
  • Over 50% of ex-criminals who went to prison reoffend, which suggests that prison does not work
  • Alternatives to prison are ASBO's (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders), community punishments and restorative justice (where the criminal meets and apologises to the victim)
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Getting a decison: the purpose of civil law

  • Criminal law deals with someone committing a crime and a punishment being given. They may be given a warning or fine for a minor offence, or a prison sentence for something serious
  • Civil law involves a dispute between to parties, which is resolves in court. The claimant may seek a specific order, or may be given compensation
  • Examples of civil law cases are whether a will is valid, child custody or property disputes


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Settling disputes

  • Every employee has rights  and obligations set out in a contract of employment. These include pay, hours, holidays, uniform and notice period
  • Dismissals must be based on clear rules, usually involving verbal, written and final warnings
  • Only in cases of gross misconduct (stealing or assault) can instant sacking be justified, and the worker can still appeal to an employment tribunal
  • When you but goods, you enter into a contract with the seller
  • A court may issue orders (residence, contact, prohibited steps and specific issues) if divorcing parents cannot agree how the children will be cared for
  • We can protect our family by writing a will that ensures that their possessions are given out as intended
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The people speak

  • Democracy is based on the idea of a majority vote, so ideally, a winner should receive 50% of the vote
  • In the UK, we elect MP's to the House of Commons and the party with the most MP's forms a government- this is parliamentary democracy
  • The USA has presidential rule, so the government depends on the President
  • In the 50's and 60's, the upper classes voted Conservative and the lower classes voted Labour. However, this link between class and parties has weakened in the past 25 years
  • In the 2005 general election, over 80% of over 65's voted, but under 50% of 18-24 year olds voted
  • A referendum is where the public are invited to say "yes" or "no" to a specific issue
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  • The current system of voting in the UK is first-past-the-post. To become a MP, the candidate has to gain more votes that any candidate in that constituency. They do not need the majority, so it means that we will always have a stable government
  • Proportional representation aims to match the number of seats a party wins to the number of votes cast. This means that parliament is more likely to reflect the total number of votes per party
  • This would mean that that there may be a mixture of parties in a coalition government
  • In the 50's 80% of people voted, only 61% voted in 2005. This fall in participation could be dangerous for democracy
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Political parties

  • Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats want to win power and form a government. Other parties want to win power regionally (Doncaster First Party) and some are more fun (the Fancy Dress Party)
  • Many people identify and vote for a party because they like or trust the leader
  • Understanding a party's history and philosophy is a good way to understands its roots and policies
  • The Conservatives were formed in the late 19th century, and they believe that the private sector could do better
  • Labour was formed in the early 20th century, and currently want to reduce social exclusion
  • The Liberal Democrats were created through the merge of the Liberals and Social Democrats, and have views on sustainability and opposition to the Iraq war


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  • Constituencies are areas represented by an MP
  • MP's are key figures in a representative democracy, but are not wholly representative of the UK population (women and ethnic minorities are under-represented)
  • Roles of an MP-
  • Deal with problems raised by constituents (people who live in their constituency)
  • Debate, amend and vote on legislation
  • Examine the work of parliament
  • Authorise and review expenditure and taxation
  • Ask questions in parliament
  • Sometimes work as ministers
  • MP's are expected to act on their judgement, not to simply carry out party instructions
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  • Parliament passes laws and is made up of 646 MP's and 730 members of The House of Lords
  • Government is the executive putting laws into effect
  • Every government department has a civil servant called a Permanent Secretary to manage staff and carry out orders of the secretary of state
  • The PM appoints about 20 senior ministers to form the Cabinet, who review developments, looks at proposals from sub-committees and decides policy
  • They decide the important issues to be presented to Parliament and decide the main points of a new law. Once a decision is made, the cabinet must support it
  • The Shadow Cabinet consists of MPs from the main opposition party in the House of Commons. They challenge the government and expose poor performance to put forward their own policies
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  • Government (proposed by government) and private members (proposed by backbench MP) bills are both public bills, whereas private bills apply to particular areas or organisations
  • If the government has enough of a majority and all of its MP's support the bill, it will pass. However, if the bill contains some points that may upset some MP's, it may be changed
  • A bill can start is the House of Commons or Lords, then passes to the other house. It then needs a Royal Assent before it can become law
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Influencing decisions

  • A pressure group is a group of people with a shared view of issues and events who try to persuade councils or governments to take their view
  • The government is helped by "insider" groups (Age Concern, NSPCC and NFU), and welcomes their suggestions and advice
  • "Outsider" groups oppose government policy and demonstrate to swing public opinion
  • Governments know that people are more likely to obey laws they understand and support, so they often hold a period of consultation and public debate before they finalise new policies
  • Councils or government have to weigh up initial local anger over a proposal against wider concerns
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Campaigning for or against change

  • The Internet has transformed campaigning- we can write blogs on our views, start a petition on 10 Downing Street website and spread opinions across billions of people
  • Councils often switch from party to party in local elections, often when the "out" party picks up on an issue
  • A by-election is an election to fill a vacancy when someone (like an MP) dies or retires
  • Local protests can succeed if a community is determined and united
  • Pressure groups are usually in charge of organising any petitions or demonstrations
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Local and regional forms of government in the UK

  • Sometimes, local councils join together in order to form bigger councils; the number of councils has fallen in the last 50 years
  • Advantages of this include better communication through local offices, Internet access and telephones. However, some say that they are not close enough to communities
  • Devolution means that political power becomes local. The UK has become less centralised as power over Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales has been to Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff
  • Although the UK government deals with nationwide matters (finance, defence and foreign policy), everyone has power over health care, transport, tourism and education
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Government beyond the UK

  • In the UK, the Queen is the Head of State and David Cameron is the Head of Government
  • In the USA, Barack Obama is the Head of State and Government (and Nicolas Sarkozy is Head of State, Francois Fillon is the Head of Government)
  • The 2 main parties in the US are the Democrats and the Republicans. Each state has a governor and the president is elected every 4 years
  • The USA and EU countries all have fair and democratic elections, though systems vary
  • However, in other countries elections and unfair and democracy is non-existent (in North Korea there is only 1 candidate, in Zimbabwe Mugabe blackmailed people with murder and brutality)
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Laura Rossiter

great for revision :) very helpful thank you!


Thank You soo much!! These are Brill!! :))


Thank you soooo much helped me out alot...:)

Shivani Bhavika



Very Helpful Thanks alot!

Mohammed abdi

thanks! this is brill!!!

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