The power of liberal arts lies in their ability to examine various issues through four different lenses. Each lens allows an individual to gain new insights into the matter, thus improving their understanding of the world. For example, the lens of social sciences that relies on data from surveys and interviews helps comprehend the nature of interactions and connections between vastly different people. For instance, Yang (2019) explains how current trends may threaten voting rights in the United States and how this issue may undermine American democracy. In this regard, social sciences, such as economics, psychology, sociology, and political science, contribute to the development of universal laws, affecting an entire society.
The lens of history focuses on reviewing past events to explain the present. For example, Moore (2019) looks into the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s history to illustrate the struggles of disenfranchised U.S. populations. History assesses the state of society through facts and urges people to learn from experience and avoid mistakes made by previous generations. As such, this lens has the potential to bridge the present and the future via the lessons from the past.
Humanities focus on symbols and meanings that penetrate human society and define the shape of its elements. Wahl (2018) demonstrated how white dresses worn by the women of the British Suffrage Movement became the symbol of their determination to achieve equality despite the scorn from society. In this regard, philosophy, literature, art, and other humanities touch the spiritual side of individual people to inspire them into action.
Lastly, natural sciences deploy scientific methods based on observation and experimentation to acquire a better understanding of various phenomena and propose new solutions. This lens utilizes a more technical approach, explaining the nature of complex issues in detail. For example, Orman (2019) used this lens to describe how online voting may replace traditional ways of casting a ballot and how American society would benefit from this technical revolution. In this regard, the essence of natural sciences is not far from exact sciences, such as physics and mathematics.
Overall, one can claim that the four lenses of liberal arts are similar in their ultimate goal of explaining the universal laws of human society. All four lenses examine the social experience of humanity to develop ways to improve society. However, the lenses differ significantly in terms of research methods. While natural and social sciences focus on data collection and experimentation, history and humanities, delve into the spiritual side and frequently deploy qualitative research methods to explain the development of society.
From the social science lens, I know that voting rights are essential to democracy. I understand that fair and open elections are vital for representing all valuable viewpoints in U.S. society and prompt detection of issues affecting our nation. In this regard, I believe the social lens of liberal arts is the most appropriate for examining the state of voting rights and elections in the modern-day United States. The history lens showed me that the struggle for voting rights and fair elections is a long-standing matter in American society. The humanities lens demonstrates how voting rights can become a symbol of freedom and the fighting spirit of disenfranchised population groups. Finally, I understand that natural sciences can be helpful in analyzing the current problems around elections in the United States, despite their limited relation to the social sphere.
Want to Know
The social science lens drew my attention to the problem of diversity and representation in the voting process. In particular, how can the U.S. society increase the diversity of the voting population? What can be done to remove or mitigate racial, gender, and ethnic discrimination? In this regard, the history lens connects modernity with valuable lessons from the past. I ask myself to what extent the 1965 Voting Rights Act can impact people’s participation in elections and what practical recommendations we can find in the past.
The lens of humanities underscores the symbolic meaning of being a voter. Are voting rights equally important to everyone, and what may people be willing to do to win or protect their voting rights? The natural science lens makes it possible to formulate additional questions — how the media and modern information technologies may affect elections? Is it possible to increase the voter base’s size and ensure the electoral procedure’s fairness?
The diversity of the voter base frequently suffers from bureaucracy and hidden discriminatory practices. For instance, the system disenfranchises poor people who do not have the necessary identity documents or do not have convenient access to ballots (Yang, 2019). In addition, disenfranchisement affects other vulnerable population groups, such as ethnic minorities and former felons (Yang, 2019). In some U.S. states, even probationers are permanently denied voting rights.
From the historical perspective, I learned about the utmost importance of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. For instance, the Act was crucial for granting voting rights to racial and ethnic minorities (Moore, 2019). This historic piece of legislation still serves as a part of the voting rights’ protection mechanism in combination with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution (Moore, 2019). As such, it serves as a valuable example of anti-discriminatory efforts in the United States.
An example of the British Suffrage Movement demonstrates that people can perceive voting rights as an important part of citizenship. For instance, the women of the movement were fully determined to win voting rights regardless of what others might think about their ideas (Wahl, 2018). The online voting procedure may be the next step for voting rights extension (Orman, 2019). In this regard, technological advancements may serve as the next important step toward a more democratic future for the United States.
Voting Rights: Social Sciences and History Lenses
From the social science lens, voting rights can be threatened by the discrimination rooted within American society. Voting rights are negatively affected by the challenges of ballot access. In particular, participation in the electoral process may be hindered by discriminatory voter identification laws, voter roll purges, and felon disenfranchisement (Yang, 2019). In this regard, the social science lens demonstrates how socially-accepted practices may act as an instrument of discrimination that directly affects political representation and the balance of power in the country.
At the same time, the history lens teaches Americans that discrimination can be removed or, at least, mitigated by the popular push for change. The history of such documents as the Voting Rights Act shows that even severe discrimination at the national level can be defeated if society shows the willingness to stand for their rights (Moore, 2019). Therefore, both history and social science lenses are similar in regard to serving the cause of voting rights protection. The key difference between the two lenses lies in the fundamental approach to advocacy. Whereas the social science lens uncovers current sources of discrimination, the history lens provides Americans with evidence of a successful fight for voting rights. However, further exploration of this topic requires outlining the potential tools for voting rights extension. In this regard, the natural science lens may offer valuable insight into viable technical and administrative ways of voting rights extension in the modern era.
Moore, W. V. (2019). Voting rights act of 1965. In Salem Press Encyclopedia. Salem Press.
Orman, H. (2019). Online voting: We can do it! (We have to). Communications of the ACM, 62(9), 25-27.
Yang, E. (2019). Ensuring access to the ballot box. Insights on Law & Society, 20(1), 20-25.
Wahl, K. (2018). Purity and parity: The white dress of the suffrage movement in early twentieth-century Britain. In J. Faiers & M. W. Bulgarella (Eds.), Colors in Fashion (pp. 21-34). Bloomsbury.