is the traditional orientation
of the citizens of a nation toward politics, affecting their
perceptions of political legitimacy.
- Dennis Kavanagh defines
political culture as "A shorthand expression to denote the set
of values within which the political system operates".
- Lucian Pye describes it as "the
sum of the fundamental values, sentiments and knowledge that give
form and substance to political process".
Political culture is how we think government should be carried out.
It is different from ideology
people can disagree on ideology, but still have a common political
Political scientist Sidney Verba
describes political culture as a "system of empirical beliefs,
expressive symbols, and values, which defines the situation in
which political action takes place."
As shared paradigms
One way to understand political culture is in terms of the shared
that co-exist within a single
particular society. This involves identifying the various cultures
within the society other than the dominant culture
. Some of the variables
used to define a political culture are its paradigms about government
There are several distinctions which can be made in identifying
political cultures. One distinction is whether it is a belief of
the culture that its basic unit is the individual
or the family
. Another distinction is to ask whether
the concept of the culture is cooperative
or competitive. Yet another
distinction is whether the culture believes the society should be
or is egalitarian
. Whether reason
as a justification
, is yet
According to William Stewart, all political behavior can be
explained as participating in one or more of eight political
cultures. They are Anarchism
, Classical liberalism
, Radical liberalism
, Democratic socialism
, and Leninist socialism
. Societies that
exemplify each of these cultures have existed historically, however
their historical placement is not of primary significance. These
cultures have existed in some form in varying degrees for thousands
to years, and still exist today.
As political philosophy
Political culture is a distinctive and patterned form of political philosophy
that consists of
beliefs on how governmental
, and economic
should be carried out. Political cultures create a framework for
political change and are unique to nations
, and other groups. A
political culture differs from political
in that people can disagree on an ideology (what
government should do) but still share a common political culture.
Some ideologies, however, are so critical of the status quo
that they require a fundamental change
in the way government is operated, and therefore embody a different
political culture as well.
The term political culture was brought into political science to
promote the American political system. The concept was used by
in late 50s, and
outlined in The Civic
), but was soon opposed by two
European political scientists - Gerhard Lehmbruch
and Arend Lijphart
. Lehmbruch analysed
politics in Switzerland and Austria and Lijphart
analysed politics in Netherlands.
Both argued that there are political
systems that are more stable than the one in the USA.
An anarchist political culture only exists in small societies in
which there are no strangers. Every person has face to face
accountability, and will have to continue to live together. The
paradigms about society and the role of the individual are shared
strongly among all of its members. In such a society institutions
of government are not necessary. Family contacts and their constant
reinforcement through personal contact hold the single-culture
A tory corporatist political culture presumes that responsibility
to the group is more important than individual needs and desires.
Tradition is the justification of the tory culture. The immediate
family connections form its basis. The corporatist culture takes
cooperation as far more important than competition.
Oligarchy is a political culture where a particular corporate group
in a society promotes its own welfare by exploiting others. While
the tory accepts that the whole society is one big family and for
the anarchist the entire society is the family; for the oligarch,
there is a great division between his or her family and the rest of
The classical liberal political culture is not based on tradition
as tory corporatism and oligarchy are. It is based in rationality.
It takes the individual as the basic unit of society and is
competitive rather than cooperative.
The radical liberal shares all of the same paradigms as the
classical liberal, however it differs in that its hierarchical
nature does not apply to its elections, and its competitive nature
is more limited.
The democratic socialist political culture is much like radical
liberalism, however it attempts to be more egalitarian. They
believe that the government is an instrument of changing the
prevailing economic paradigm. They are collectivist rather than
Leninist socialists like other socialists take rationality as the
justification for their culture. They believe that the rich lie and
perpetuate paradigms which support their own interests. While they
reject a social hierarchy, the government itself is rigidly
While the tory corporatist culture is established and on-going, the
fascist corporatist attempts to create such a culture by force. The
tory takes tradition as the legitimate basis of society, while the
fascist makes some form of appeal to rationality. The fascist
attempts to recreate the conditions of tory corporatism as a
response to Leninist socialism.
Almond and Verba
According to their level and type of political participation
nature of people's attitudes toward politics, Gabriel Almond
and Sidney Verba
outlined three pure types of
- Parochial - Where citizens are only remotely aware of the
presence of central government, and live their lives near enough
regardless of the decisions taken by the state. Distant and unaware
of political phenomena. He has neither knowledge or interest in
politics. In general congruent with a traditional political
- Subject - Where citizens are aware of central government, and
are heavily subjected to its decisions with little scope for
dissent. The individual is aware of politics, its actors and
institutions. It is affectively oriented towards politics, yet he
is on the "downward flow" side of the politics. In general
congruent with a centralized authoritarian structure.
- Participant - Citizens are able to influence the government in
various ways and they are affected by it. The individual is
oriented toward the system as a whole, to both the political and
administrative structures and processes (to both the input and
output aspects). In general congruent with a democratic political
These three 'pure' types of political culture can combine to create
the 'civic culture
', which mixes the
best elements of each.
By Arend Lijphart
, there are
different classifications of political culture:
- Political culture of masses
- Political culture of the elite(s)
2. classification (of political culture of the elites):
Lijphart also classified structure of the society:
|Structure of society (right)
|Political culture ofelites (down)
The most stable political system is consociative democracy which
has the heterogeneous society in which all parts of the society
work together and not contradict each other. Those kind of systems
are common in Scandinavia (especially Sweden).
- Page with definitions
- Pye, L. (1995) 'Political Culture' in the Encuclopedia of
Democracy, ed. S. Lipset. (London and New York:Routledge)
- William Stewart, Understanding Politics
- Lukšič, Igor (2006).
Politična kultura, p.40-42. FDV,
Ljubljana. Retrieved on June 29, 2007.
- Almond, Gabriel A., Verba, Sidney The Civic Culture.
Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1965.
- Aronoff, Myron J. “Political Culture,” in International
Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes, eds., (Oxford:
Elsevier, 2002), 11640.
- Axelrod, Robert. 1997. “The Dissemination of Culture: A Model
with Local Convergence and Global
Polarization.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 41:203-26.
- Barzilai, Gad. Communities and Law: Politics and Cultures
of Legal Identities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press,
- Bednar, Jenna and Scott Page. 2007. “Can Game(s) Theory Explain
Culture? The Emergence of Cultural
Behavior within Multiple Games” Rationality and Society
- Clark, William, Matt Golder, and Sona Golder. 2009. Principles
of Comparative Government. CQ Press. Ch. 7
- Diamond, Larry (ed.) Political Culture and Democracy in
- Greif, Avner. 1994. “Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of
Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist
and Individualist Societies.” The Journal of Political Economy
- Kertzer, David I. Politics and Symbols. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press, 1996.
- Kertzer, David I. Ritual, Politics, and Power. New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.
- Kubik, Jan. The Power of Symbols Against The Symbols of
Power. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University
- Inglehart, Ronald and Christian Welzel, Modernization, Cultural
Change and Democracy. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2005. Ch. 2
- Laitin, David D. Hegemony and Culture. Chicago, IL:
The University of Chicago Press, 1986.
- Lukšič, Igor. Politična kultura. Ljubljana: The
University of Ljubljana, 2006.
- Wilson, Richard W. "The Many Voices of Political Culture:
Assessing Different Approaches," in World Politics 52
(January 2000), 246-73