Thursday, July 19, 2012

Political Culture/Socialization

Political culture refers to “people’s psychological orientation, being the pattern of orientations to political objects such as parties, government, and constitution, expressed in beliefs, symbols and values”.[1] It builds upon the studies of political behavior which focuses on individuals rather than larger political units.[2] It wishes to look at participants in the political system as individuals who have the emotions, prejudices and predispositions.[3] Behavioralism has eight intellectual foundation stones:[4] 1) Regularities (assumes that there are “discoverable uniformities”); 2) Commitment to Verification - The ability to verify ones generalizations, testability by reference to relevant behavior; 3) Techniques – Be more self-conscious and critical about its methodology; 4) Quantification (Results to be expressed in numbers where possible); 5) Values – separating facts from values; 6) Systemization – Theory and research as closely intertwined; 7) Pure Science (theory and applied research combined ) and 8) Integration (interdisciplinary character).

Political socialization is the developmental process through which persons acquire political orientations and patterns of behaviour.[5]  It is the process of transmitting the central values of society’s political culture from one generation to another. Studying political socialization does “not only gives us insight into the pattern of political culture and subcultures in [a] society, but also locates for us in the socialization processes of the society the point where particular qualities and elements are being sustained or modified.”[6]

The pioneering work of Almond and Verba (Civil Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations, 1963) reveals that democratic stability is characterized by a blend of activity and passivity on the part of citizens and a balance between obligation and performance on the part of state leaders. They identified three major types of political culture: 1) parochial (i.e. Mexico and Italy) “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.”;2) subject (i.e. Germany) “where citizens are aware of central government, and are heavily subjected to its decisions with little scope for dissent” and 3) participant (i.e. UK and US) where “citizens are able to influence the government in various ways and they are affected by it.”  A similar study of O.D. Corpuz[7] reveals the historical and cultural foundations of Philippine politics. The author writes argues that Filipino political institutions are not merely “adulterated versions” of alien institutions. Irregularities in the system manifest because Filipinos have a superstructure of Western-inspired values sitting on top indigenous infra-structure.


[1] Heywood, A. 2007. Politics (3rd ed). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 207
[2] Robert A. Dahl, "The Behavioral Approach in Political Science:  Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Pro- test," American Political Science Review, 55 (December 1961): 763-772.
[3] David  Easton,. "The Current Meaning of  Behavioralism," in Charlesworth, ed.,   Contemporary Political Analysis, pp. 11-31.
[4] David  Easton,. "The Current Meaning of  Behavioralism," in Charlesworth, ed.,   Contemporary Political Analysis, pp. 16-17.
[5] Easton, David. 1968. The Theoretical Relevance of Political Socialization.  Canadian Journal of Political Science 1 (2):125-146.
[6] Almond, Gabriel A. 1960. “A Functional Approach to Comparative Politics,” in Gabriel A. Almond and James S. Coleman (eds.), The Politics of Developing Areas. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.pp. 31.
[7] Onofre D. Corpuz, "The Cultural Foundations of Filipino Politics," Philippine   Journal   of  Public Administration, 4 (October 1960): 297-310.

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