Category:Political Culture

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The term Political Culture refers to specific political orientations, which mean attitudes towards the political system and its elements as well as the self-perception within the system. Political culture thus can be interpreted as a set of orientations towards social objects and processes. In short, according to Almond an Verba, it can be seen as the specific distribution of orientation patterns concerning the objects of a political system.


Political culture according to the International Encyclopedia of the Social an Behavioral Sciences refers to "the meanings attributed to politics. It constitutes the socially constructed and tenuously shared meanings which endow or challenge legitimacy in the political institutions, offices, and procedures of a polity". The political culture of a state reflects the psychological and subjective dimensions of politics. It is the product of the history of a political system as well as that of its members.

Political culture and participation

The participatory potential of a democratic political system is partially determined by its political culture. Almond and Verba formulate this basic idea in their well known book The Civic Culture:

"If the democratic model of the participatory state is to develop […], it will require more than the formal institutions of democracy […]. A democratic form of participatory political system requires as well a political culture consistent with it." (1963, 5)

The political culture which fits a participatory political system best is what they call 'civic culture', in which individuals have a strong orientation towards political input structures and processes. On the one hand they participate actively in the political process, on the other hand they don't abandon their social orientations: "Thus attitudes favorable to participation within the political system play a major role in the civic culture, but so do such nonpolitical attitudes as trust in other people and social participation in general." (1963, 32)

This conglomerate of traditional, subject-centered and participatory elements explains, in the appraisal of Almond and Verba, the balanced character of the civic culture. Here political acitvity, contribution and rationality is compensated with passivity, traditionalism and solidarity with local loyalities.

The political culture is internalized by the individuals via socialization processes and predisposes their political actions - including participation. Political participation thus always takes place under structural constraints.

Pages in category "Political Culture"

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