Definition of Political culture
Political culture is the sum of all fundamental values, knowledge and
sentiment that gives the political process form and substance (Hague &
Harrop). Hague & Harrop further states that the study of political
culture is carried out using public symbols and opinion survey. Andrew
Heywood in his book “Politics third edition” define political
culture as the beliefs, values structure, symbols and attitude that
people have towards the political process, more important is the view on
their current regime. Political culture is therefore the precise
distribution of attitudes towards parties, government, expressed
beliefs, constitution, values and symbols among people in a nation. A
citizen understands and knowledge of the political phenomena is referred
to as cognition. While the citizen feelings are his or her emotional
disposition toward the political phenomena. Evaluation is the citizen
opinion and judgment about the political phenomena. Other definitions of
political culture: as a product of political socialization political
culture is the process of individuals becoming familiar to the political
system moreover, political culture determines the degree of an
individual reaction and perception to political phenomena.
There are three types political culture: participant, parochial and
Participant political culture- where citizens in a nation are influences
their government in different ways are affected by the culture.
Subject political culture –here the citizens are subject to a central
government which they are aware of and adhere to it decisions with
Parochial political culture here the citizen are remotely aware of
central government presence and conduct their lives in accordance to
their will regardless of the government decisions.
Government support is high in both subject and participation political
cultures and low in parochial. A mixture of subject and participation is
known as civic culture. Civic political culture is characterized by
support for government decision, acceptance of authority and citizens
participation in civic duties by beliefs in participation.
Critique of political culture
To analyze political culture in detail we will use the following
question as guide to our analysis
Is Civic culture excessively elitist?
The Civic culture is characterized by individual’s acceptance of their
government authority and their participation belief in civil individual.
In most democracies the elite in the community are the one who take
power position. Civic culture is considered too elitist because the rich
people are always the one in power. According to Hague & Harrop the
elite believe that it is their right to be the leaders thus they
dominate in leadership positions.
Is political culture cause or effect?
Political culture is more of an effect than a cause. Political culture
is the sum of people psychological states the human thoughts act as
stimulus response system thus becoming cause of particular actions and
perception. This perception and actions results into political culture
thus it is clear that political culture is an effect of perception and
actions and not a cause.
Political systems are characterized by different political culture. Each
political culture is composed of sub groupings which are based on
language, religion, ethnic and race. There is no single homogenous
political culture, but to reduce differences and maintain political
system running for long. Political subcultures are thus the orientations
or particular pattern to political action where each system of politic
The dominant ideology is of the view that the minority and subordinate
groups accept their poor status and disadvantages because the political
culture that they live in is controlled by dominant groups. Furthermore,
the political leaders of the current time who posses power influences
the ideals, morals and values of the working class people who accept the
dominant ideology as natural.
Changing political culture
Changes in political culture occur over time even though these changes
are usually slow this is because people becomes set in the political
cultures and are reluctant to alter their perceptions and attitudes on
major issues. It may take a generation shift for political culture
change to take place.
According Andrew Heywood social capital is the cooperation and mutual
trust that comes from the community connection. The relationship that
forms the social capital is referred to as the civil society. In
democratic societies individuals ought to be willing tolerate and trust
others especially those whom they disagree with. Failure of this can
lead to failure of democracy which is ultimately formed by cooperative
government. Hague & Harrop that social capital is used to strengthen the
bond between the community members thus building democracy. By working
together a sense of trust and community is created. Democratization,
most authoritative government discourages civil society in order to
avoid resistant to their rule. Such government regimes tend to instill
mistrust and fear within the citizens and avoid as much as possible.
This is the transformation of people’s values from economic, physical
and materialism to new personal values of self expression and personal
values of autonomy. The individuals are liberated from materialistic
need. When individual for a long time have material affluence they
become post materialist. Individual living in materialistic society
measures status in terms of material possession how much one has and how
he or she have achieved. In non materialistic society it is measured
using factors such as personal skills and education level individual
properties do not count. Such society which are non materialistic
perform better in economic crisis since supply-demand bottleneck are
eliminated thus allowing the application of material standard. In
political science post materialistic occurs when citizens and political
forces gives priority to full scale democratization, global
responsibility and self actualization aesthetic needs and challenges
those individual who emphasizes on physical security and economic
growth. Therefore, post materialism is a theory that links economic
prosperity level to political attitude nature, the theory assumes that
materials scarcity causes political dominated and acquisitive values
that are dominated by the economic issues. Prosperity conditions
triggers post material issues examples include ecology, animal rights
and feminism and also a new form of participation of the groups
challenging the elite.
Political disenchantment occurs when the citizens no longer believe in a
government and feels disappointed. In most democratic society citizen
are disenchanted with political process. The reason for this is because
citizen in most democracies have grown tired of politicians lies and are
sceptical about democracy. Political disenchantment is witnessed through
voters turn out decline whereby people turn out to vote in smaller
numbers. The reason for this being politicians rarely pay attention t
voters wants which frustrates the voters. Political disenchantment is
also seen through loss of political trust, here people losses their
confidence in their government and the political institutions. There are
many reasons that causes this distrust between the government and the
governed such as failure of the government to fulfil it pledges to
people, failure to provide employment and increasing the cost of living
by charging high taxes.
In recent years parties have recorded a decline in their member’s
number this is because people are less interested in politics.
In attempt to account for the declining trust between voter and
politicians tends to lower the voting age. However, this does not change
the political disaffection. Political parties are also seen as part of
the problem and a way for the elite to divide the poor and continue
holding on to poor while the poor lavish in poverty.
Depoliticization is the act of removing political aspects from influence
and control this in democratic countries occurs when the gap between the
government and the governed. People chooses not support the government
and are less interested in politics of the day which makes the
government lose control. Globalization occurs when there is increased
social, cultural, and economic activity across borders in democracies
where political disenchantment is high people tends to move to countries
where the government are more trustful and social capital is encouraged.
Multiculturalism relates to communities having multiple cultures, it is
a political philosophy set of ideas about a better way to respond
religious and culture diversity. Supporters of multiculturalism believe
that different culture and traditions can play a huge role in enriching
the society. Therefore multiculturalism is a condition whereby cultural
diversity arises due to differences between groups with distinctive
collective identity. For this group to live in harmony recognizing and
respecting each other culture is paramount. Thus, multiculturalism takes
place naturally when both the immigrant and the people they meet in the
country they migrate to are willing to accept each other culture.
However, according to critics multiculturalism promotes moral relativism
tolerance which causes national identity loss.
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Definition of Political culture