POLITICAL CULTURE, The concept and structure of political...


Basic concepts: political culture, the structure of political culture, values, value orientations, attitudes, stereotypes, types of political culture, political subcultures, models of political culture. >

In political sociology, issues of interaction between culture and politics are among the most interesting and controversial issues. In the 1950's and 1960's. one of the most popular concepts was the theory of modernization, arguing, in particular, that no matter how great the cultural differences between the countries, they will all necessarily develop in the direction of modern society - by creating a market economy and building a rule of law. Following the failure of attempts at modernization in some third-world countries, the researchers turned to looking for other structural conditions that determine the success of the development of modern states. Later, already in the 1970s and 1980s, it became clear that social progress and national prosperity were guaranteed far from all countries. The modernization policy in many regions of the world has come up against a strong resistance of the national culture. The liberal idea that it is possible to transform society only through political means and accelerate the process of its social development has been disproved in the process of carrying out socio-economic and political reforms.

A search for new approaches to the study of political life was required, and one of such approaches was the sociocultural approach, which points to the significant influence of the system of values ​​that prevails in society on the development and strengthening of democratic institutions and political practices. The authors who developed this approach, and whose name is associated with the beginning of its wide application, are the American scientists G. Almond and S. Verba who described it in their work "Civil Culture: Political Relations and Democracy in Five Nations" (recognized classical), first published in 1963

The concept and structure of political culture

By culture we mean a set of values, attitudes, beliefs, orientations and beliefs that prevail among members of society. Political culture is part of a common culture. The singling out of political culture as an important component of politics occurred back in the mid-1950s. Although the term was first used by the German educator I. Herder in the 18th century, long before the appearance of the term on the existence of this aspect of politics, thinkers of different epochs - Aristotle, N. Machiavelli, S.-L. Montesquieu, J.-Z. Rousseau et al.

The birth of the theory of political culture, as is often the case in science, is due to the desire of scientists to respond to "inconvenient" Issues that go beyond the proposed paradigms. In this case, political science finds itself in a difficult situation in connection with the questions about why uniform political institutions and organizations operate in different countries in different ways, why in the same institutional environments citizens demonstrate different models of political behavior and different degrees of involvement in the political process. One of the first who scientifically explained these phenomena was G. Almond. He proposed to combine in the study formal and informal elements of the political system with an analysis of the national political culture.

Theoretically, the concept of political culture has largely contributed to overcoming the psychological approach in political studies and the development of the sociological method - through the disclosure of complex social ties and the relationship between objective and subjective factors of politics, between the political system of society - and its individual elements in general - and individual, in fact, national-typical models of political behavior and participation. The concept of political culture has created a fertile ground for the development of comparative studies that have made it possible to avoid simplistic ideas about contemporary political processes and phenomena that reveal themselves both in the reduction of politics to exclusively material, objective factors (in the traditions of classical Marxism) and to purely subjective, the specifics of early socialization of the individual in the spirit of the traditions of Freud's psychoanalysis, or with the innate characteristics of the national character of individuals in the spirit of United States th Slavophilism.

In practical terms, the theory of political culture allowed sociological science to conduct research.

Problems of political culture over the decades of the concept's existence are constantly attracting the attention of scientists from different countries. At present, there are many definitions of political culture and a variety of approaches to its study.

In the environment of researchers of political culture there is still no common opinion about what this phenomenon is. Some emphasize the normative and ideological aspects of the case (L. Pai), referring to political culture the knowledge of politics, facts, their interest, the evaluation of political phenomena relating to what the government should exercise, taking into account also the emotional side of political positions and those recognized in this society samples of political behavior. "Political culture is a set of orientations, beliefs, opinions that introduce consistency and give meaning to the political process and which supply those fundamental concepts and norms that govern behavior in the political system". It seems that the political culture is determined mainly by cognitive processes. As a result, the boundary between the ideological structure and the political culture of society is blurred.

T. Parsons defines political culture as a "special type of orientation toward political action."

The definition of political culture, given by G. Almond and S. Verba, is recognized as classical. According to their conclusions, political culture is a set of people's orientations towards political objects. The term "political culture," they write, "implies specific political attitudes ( attitudes ) in relation to the political system and its various parts and attitude towards its own role in the system."

The political culture of a nation is a special distribution of patterns of orientation toward political objects among representatives of a given nation, which underlies their political actions and gives them significance.

As noted by almost all researchers, political culture is a synthesis of politics and culture. A person expresses his interests and goals through the ability of orientation in social space. He assigns certain meaningful objects to him with a certain meaning. Sense is a certain form of the transformation of the psyche into socially oriented thinking. Meaning is a measure of mastering the reality of the world, which provides an individual with a stable connection with it and helps to adapt to its changes. The individual has the opportunity to act consciously, understanding the dynamics of changes in the objective world. M. Weber noted that people are "people of culture" insofar as they are gifted with the ability and the will to take the position of a conscious attitude to the world and to attach meaning to it. If these provisions are applied to the sphere of political culture, then taking into account that, by and large, political culture is a political way of mastering (and understanding) reality, it can be argued that it begins when processes and phenomena are viewed by individuals (social groups) in connection with their political meaning and are included in practical activities as having this meaning.

Semantic orientation gradually forms certain principles of thinking and setting behavior, in relation to which a person together with other individuals manifests a corresponding positive reaction. These certain principles are the values ​​that form the mental structures of thinking, develop sustainable ways of perception and the relationship of man to reality, individual institutions and events.

"Value," wrote Clarkhon, "is conceptions of desirable, the concept of what is desirable is characteristic of an individual or group, and influences the choice of available ways, means and objectives of actions" . Values ​​are really manifested when an individual or a group makes a choice between thinking and behavior (meaning generalized codes of individual and social life). In the categories of values, the ultimate standards and criteria for the interests and preferences of various social communities are expressed. For each community a certain system of values ​​is formed with its hierarchy. And the adoption of one or another social value orientation is one of the most important and necessary links in the process of political choice.

T. Parsons defined values ​​ as "conceptualizing the desired type of object for each of the categories of empirical objects (social system, personality system, etc.)". M. Rokich wrote: "To say that a person has value means to say that she has a firm belief that there is a certain behavior or a certain target state of the existence of behaviors or target states of existence."

From the above, it is clear that the main subject of interest for these researchers was the position of individuals (and groups) in relation to political "objects", which means orientation to research of the subjective factor of politics. It remains to clarify the question of what is the structure of the political orientations that make up political culture.

F. Almond and S. Verba proposed their vision of the structure of the system of political orientations. It includes:

1) cognitive orientation, or knowledge and belief about the political system, its role and those who perform these roles, its inputs and outputs;

2) "affective orientation", or feelings about the political system, the role of its officials and functioning;

3) the "appraisal orientation", or beliefs and opinions about political objects that tend to include a combination of value standards and criteria with information and feelings.

Another typology of orientations of constituent structures of political culture was proposed by the American scientist V. Rosenbaum. According to his position, the very structure of political culture is the structure of orientations. He identified several groups of political orientations depending on the object.

1. Orientations regarding institutions of public administration:

a) orientation relative to the regime. How an individual evaluates and reacts to the main state institutions, their norms, symbols, officials;

b) orientation relative to the inputs ( inputs ) and the outputs ( outputs ) of the political system. How an individual evaluates the various requirements at the public policy address ( inputs ) and on the political decisions taken by the authorities ( outputs ) and reacts to them; this includes the individual's knowledge of how these processes are taking place, what requirements he can put to the government, how much and how, in his opinion, government policy can be effective.

2. Orientation for other in the political system:

a) political identifications. Political formations (nation, state, city, district), geographical areas, groups to which, according to the individual's self-perception, he belongs - all this in a certain sense is an important part of his social identity; in particular to them interiorized those associations and groups in relation to which the individual feels loyalty, commitment and duty;

b) political faith. The degree to which openness and tolerance can be achieved by the self-perception of the individual, participating with others in civil life; political faith primarily reflects the conviction of the individual that other individuals or groups mean for him from the political point of view something good (or bad);

c) game rules & quot ;. An individual's vision of what rules should be observed in civil life; these subjective preferences may (or can not) coincide with the prevailing legal order and other normative systems on the basis of which the society functions.

3. Orientations regarding their own political activities:

a) political competence. Is the individual always involved in public life and in what ways? the frequency with which he uses his political "resources", allowing him to take part in the social life of society; this implies a certain evolution of his assessments of his own political resources;

b) political reality. The feeling that the political actions of an individual have or can have an impact on the political process; this presupposes the belief that political change is possible and that the individual is able to implement them through civil actions; all individuals can be classified, taking as a basis the following principle: "belief in the possibility of political reality" - large, medium, small.

Q. Rosenbaum also provides operational characteristics of political and cultural orientation. That is, such characteristics that allow you to translate orientation problems into the plane of practical policy, to link with it, to use for a specific analysis. It reduces these characteristics to the table of operational definitions (Table 19.1).

Table 19.1

Typology of political orientations (but to V. Rosenbaum)


Operational Definition

Political Identity

Nation of citizens; Political education and groups, concerning which the individual is positive or negative; Political formations and groups in which the individual is most deeply involved

Political Faith

Willingness to cooperate with various groups in various social actions; group membership; Evaluation of the activities of groups in terms of whether it deserves trust, what are its motives, etc.

Mode Orientation

Belief in the legitimacy of the regime; feelings (about) and evaluation of the main political institutions and symbols of the regime; involvement in political activities to support or oppose the regime

Game Rules

As an individual refers to the expressed political opinions; the concept of political commitment for oneself and for others; the concept of political decision-making by the authorities; attitude to political deviants and dissidents

Political Effectiveness

The belief that power is responsible for its actions; belief in the importance of civic engagement and political participation; belief in the possibility of political change

Political Competence

The frequency of voting and other types of political activity; knowledge of political events and their impact on people; interest in politics

Orientation input-output

Satisfaction with the policy of power; knowledge of how political requirements reach decision-making centers; belief in the effectiveness of inputs and outputs political system

Orientations are a socio-psychological education. Sources of orientation are of a dual nature. They are generated by the interaction of their own motives, empirical knowledge of people and the ideological and political concepts that they have learned. In a cognitive sense, they are close to social concepts. The difference is that, apart from knowledge, they contain value, affective and behavioral attitudes toward the phenomena of social and political life. A setting is a state of readiness or predisposition of an individual or group to action in a certain way. Any installation - a temporary category, the duration of its existence is due to the lack of new material about the object or the lack of a desire to find it. But when new information appears, information, and they come into conflict with an existing installation, then the view (and orientation) is formed no longer on the basis of the installation, but as if getting rid of it (and perhaps opening the way to a new installation).

This ability of a person to constantly revise their views on a certain range of issues on the basis of new material, obtained knowledge, sometimes even discarding previously created settings, speaks about the active development of a person's socio-political experience. Therefore, it is important for us, continuing further research, to talk specifically about change, dynamics, "revision" political orientations by individuals.

Since one of the main types of relations that characterize the essence of political orientations are the value-value relations realized in the spiritual and practical activities of social communities, the system of values ​​and norms should be recognized as one of the determining factors affecting the formation and functioning political orientations.

The internal inconsistency of political and cultural phenomena presupposes the presence in the political culture of "logical", "illogical", "non-logical" (V. Pareto) elements. For this reason, the culturally mediated activity of an individual is always a complex set of behavioral subprograms embodying stereotyped, creative, playful, targeted and other modes of existence. Therefore, for example, the same type of political culture can simultaneously determine the passive and active attitude of citizens to politics.

Thus, to the features revealing the socio-cultural content of political phenomena, it is necessary to attribute a meaningful, value-based, based on individual processing of the personality of the experience, norms and traditions that are important to it, the orientation of political activity, which is embodied in typical for her actions and attitude to power.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)