Article on “Political Culture”

The concept of Political Culture has been formulated for this purpose. Davies and Lewis write: “Political Systems operate within the frame-work of a set of meanings and purposes-the political culture of the society.”

The study of politics can never be complete and real without studying it in relation with its political culture. This necessity has given rise to efforts aimed at conceptualisation of Political Culture. A pioneering contribution in this direction has been made by Gabriel Almond, to who goes the credit of popularising this concept in the study of politics.

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In traditional political science, some attempts were always made to study the human environment of political institutions. Such concepts as National Morale, National Character, National Psychology and some others were used for this purpose.

However, little effort was directed towards a comprehensive and systematic analysis of all aspects of the environment of politics. This weakness of the traditional political science got substantially eliminated by the development of the concept of Political Culture. It enabled the political scientists to analyse and classify political systems on the basis of their political cultures.

Lucian Pye and Sidney Verba have rightly observed, “Political Culture is a recent term which seeks to make more explicit and systematic, much of the understanding associated with long­standing concepts as political ideology, national ethos and spirit, national psychology and the fundamental values of a people.”

Political Sociology uses the concept of political culture for studying the social roots of human political behaviour in each state.

Some Popular definitions of Political Culture:

1. “The concept of Political Culture is a convenient shorthand way of referring to the values, beliefs and emotions that give meaning to political life.” The sum total of individual beliefs, values and emotions constitutes the political culture of a country. -Rose and Dogan

2. “Political Culture is the pattern of individual attitudes and orientations towards politics among the members of a Political system.” Political Culture consists of those attitudes, values and skills, which are current in an entire population as well as those special propensities and patterns which may be formed within separable parts of the population. -Almond and Powell

3. “Political Culture means commonly shared goals and commonly accepted rules.” -Roy Macridis

4. “Political Culture is composed of the attitudes, beliefs, emotions and values of society related to Political System and to political issues.” – A.R. Ball

5. “Political Culture consists of the system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols and values which define the situation in which political action takes place.” -Pye and Sidney Verba

6. “The components of Political Culture are values, beliefs and emotional attitudes about how government ought to be conducted and what should it do.” – Samuel Beer

7. “Political Culture is an expression to denote the emotional and attitudinal environment within which the political system works.” -Dennis Kawanagh

8. “A Political Culture is a pattern of individual values, beliefs and emotional attitudes.” -Eric Rowe

9. “The Political Culture of a nation consists of the characteristic attitudes of its population towards basic features of the political system – the community to be included within its boundaries, the nature of the regime, the definition of what government is expected to do and refrain from doing and the role of individuals as participants and passive subjects of government.” -R. Rose

From these definitions, it becomes clear that just as culture means the collectively of the thoughts, values, beliefs, traditions, customs of the people i.e. the social heritage acquired by each new generation from its preceding generations through informal as well as formal learning; likewise.

Political Culture is the sum total of values, beliefs, orientations and; attitudes of the people which they learn or acquire from their system and which influences! Their behaviour as actors of the political system. It is the sociological environment that surrounds the political system and affects it’s working.

Lucian I’ve writes: “Political Culture is to the political system what culture is to the social system.”

In simple words, Political Culture is the set of attitudes, beliefs and sentiments that give order and meaning to the political process, and that provides the underlying assumptions and rules that govern people’s behaviour in their political system. Political Culture encompasses both the political ideals and the operating norms of a polity.

It is thus the manifestation in aggregate form of psychological and subjective dimensions of politics. Political Culture is the product of the collective history of a political system as well as the life histories of the members of that system, and it is rooted equally in public events and private experiences.