The 2×2 table is the argumentative tool of choice for political scientists rather than sociologists, but I couldn’t resist this one. My colleague Al Bergesen pitched it to me yesterday (though he may have gotten it from somewhere else).
Political ideology classified by outlook on life and policy domain.
Let’s confine ourselves to the U.S. case. We have two outlooks on life, Romantic and Realist, and we have two policy arenas, Domestic and Foreign. In the realm of domestic policy, Romantics are right-wingers. America is the land of free enterprise, democracy and freedom of expression. You choose your own path in life. Anyone can become president. Realists, on the other hand, are left-wingers when it comes to domestic policy. America is the land of systematic inequality and class conflict. Structural position determines life-chances. The presidency is hereditary.
The positions are reversed in the realm of foreign policy. Now the Romantics are left wingers. Containment is a viable option for Iraq. The U.N. is an effective forum. Cuba is an exercise in real socialism. Realists, by contrast, are right-wingers. Saddam is a maniac. We have to kill the bastards before they get us. Cuba is a tin-pot dictatorship.
In the wider scheme of things, this table—- like most 2×2 tables, I fear—- explains nothing at all. But it has that superficial plausibility which strongly predicts publication in, eg, the American Political Science Review.