Civics Unit 8

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Advocacy group

another term for an interest group.

Amicus curiae brief

Latin term meaning "friend of the court"; name for a legal brief filed with a court by someone who is not a party to the case.

Chief of staff

the highest ranking employee of the White House and a close adviser of the President.


in present-day American politics, an ideology that favors tradition (in the sense of religious, cultural, or nationally-defined beliefs) and is critical of proposals for radical social change. Some distinction can be made between fiscal conservatives (who favor reduced taxes and government spending) and social conservatives (who focus on religious and cultural values).


a factor that decisively affects the outcome of something.

"Get out the vote"

efforts focused on increasing voter turnout in elections.


people at a local or lowest level rather than at the center or upper levels of a political movement.

Interest group

an organized group trying to influence the government to adopt certain policies or laws; other terms include advocacy group, pressure group, lobby group, or special interests.

Labor union

an organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests.


in present-day American politics, an ideology that favors a greater role for the government in the economy and more active policies for social change.


in present-day American politics, an ideology that favors only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens and in the economy.


the process of taking legal action.


seek to influence a politician or public official on an issue.


a person who seeks to influence a politician or public official on an issue.

Political orientation

the way a person defines his or her political ideology and affiliation.

Public interest

related to the well-being of the general public.

Public policy

actions by a government that affect the lives of citizens.

Think tank

a group of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems.

Trade association

an organization funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry to further their interests.


the act of using energetic campaigning to bring about political or social change.


the feeling that you have no connection with the people around you.

American Indian Movement

a Native American advocacy group founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Americans with Disabilites Act of 1990

the first major civil rights law addressing needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications.

Black Lives Matter

an international activist movement that campaigns against violence toward black people.

Civic action

individual and group activity intended to identify and address issues of public concern.

Civil disobedience

the refusal to obey certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest.


a physical or mental condition limiting a person's movements, senses, or activities.


the unjust or unfair treatment of different categories of people, especially on the basis of race, age, abilities, or sex.

Life cycle

a progression through a series of different stages of development.

Nonviolent resistance

the practice of achieving change through protests, civil disobedience, boycotts, or political noncooperation without using violence.

Occupy Movement

a social movement that protests against social and economic inequality around the world.

Protest movement

a social movement using organized public actions to draw attention to problems not being addressed in a political system.

Public accommodations

facilities and telecommunications that can be used by the general public.


prejudice, discrimination, or hostility directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.


translating roughly as "truth force," a form of nonviolent resistance developed by Mohandas Gandhi in India.


a policy that allows the tribes in the United States to have self-governance and decision-making on issues that affect their own people.


the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.

Social movement

organized groups of people that carry out, resist, or undo social change.

United Farm Workers

a labor union founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez, a migrant farm worker.

Direct democracy

a form of government in which laws are created by citizen voting rather than by elected representatives.

Direct initiative

an initiative measure that is placed directly on the ballot for voters to reject or pass; this type of initiative does not have to first be approved by a legislature.


something related to a state governor or the office of state governor, such as a gubernatorial election or a gubernatorial mansion.

Indirect democracy

when citizens elect representatives to make laws on their behalf; another term for representative democracy.

Indirect initiative

initiative where a proposed measure is first considered by the legislature and goes to the voters by referendum if the legislature rejects it.


a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote on an issue; in Michigan, the initiative is used to propose laws or amendments to the state constitution.

Multiple-choice referendum

a type of referendum where voters are asked a series of questions, or in which there are multiple possible answers to a single question.


a written document signed by a large number of people demanding action from a government; petitions are typically the first stage in initiatives and referendums.


a direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question, such as a change to the constitution.

Popular sovereignty

the idea that the authority of a state and its government is created and sustained by the consent of its citizens.


a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before the official's term has ended.


a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to vote on a particular proposal; in Michigan, the referendum is use to ask voters if they want a law overturned.

Representative democracy

when citizens elect representatives to make laws on their behalf; another term for indirect democracy.


another term for a law.

Veto referendum

a type of referendum where citizens are asked if they want a law repealed.

Air war

the part of a political campaign conducted over radio and television airwaves.


statistical data related to a population and the particular groups within it.

Digital age

time period beginning in the 1970s associated with the introduction of the personal computer and later technology allowing the ability to transfer information rapidly.


to share or pass along information, images, or videos via email or social media.

Ground war

activity by local political organizations, such as door-to-door visits with citizens, gathering signatures for petitions, or offering to drive voters to polling locations.


the global communication network allowing computers around the world to connect and exchange information.

Mass media

methods of communication, as television or newspapers, that reach very large numbers of people.


a humorous image, video, or section of text that is copied (often with modifications) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

News feed

a list of newly published content on a website, or new items in a social media site that are provided by external sources.

Non-government organization (NGO)

non-profit, voluntary group organized on a local, national or international level.

"Off the grid"

a term that originally referred to people who are not dependent on public utilities, especially electricity; the term can also mean someone who is not active in social media or Internet activity.


to post a message, link, image, or video to an online location, like a blog or social media website, that has already posted by someone else.

Social interaction

the way people communicate and act with each other and with various structures in society.

Social media

websites and applications enabling users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Social networking

A network of social interactions and personal relationships; this can occur in the real world, online, and in both settings.

Swing state

also called a battleground state or purple state, a state involved in a close general election race; in recent national elections, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia have been key swing states. These states do not have a solid majority of either Democratic or Republican voters, so the parties spend much time and money trying to win these states.


a person familiar with technology who can quickly master new technological devices and applications.

Traditional media

forms of communication, such as television, print, radio, and direct mail advertising, that existed before the emergence of the Internet; these are sometimes called "old media."


a person who posts a deliberately offensive message to social media, a message board, or a comments section on a website with the main goal of causing disruption and argument.

Usable knowledge

knowledge that people and policy makers can apply to solve contemporary social problems.


an image, video, or advertisement that circulates rapidly on the Internet.