by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop

Chapter Six: Political Culture

Chapter Notes

  • Political culture as ‘the sum of the fundamental values, sentiments and knowledge that give form and substance to political processes. Studying political culture through opinion surveys or public symbols. Danger of ignoring subject cultures and of stereotyping national character.
  • Almond and Verba's civic culture. A participant style is balanced by less engaged elements to produce a balance conducive to democratic stability. Need to account for political culture itself: can reflect as well as shape politics.
  • Declining confidence in political institutions but not in democratic principles. Fall may have bottomed out in the 2000s. The implications for social capital.
  • A political generation as a culturally distinctive age cohort. Distinguishing life-cycle and generational effects. Post-materialism: cultural change in Western democracies. The impact of post-war peace, affluence and educational expansion. Generational replacement as a mechanism of cultural change. The emergence of political leaders with no experience of world war.
  • Huntington’s seven or eight civilizations and the clash of civilizations. Against this, Islam as a multi-vocal religion, a cultural resource which can be exploited in innumerable ways. Support for democracy widespread in both Western and Islamic countries but sexual attitudes more conservative in the Muslim world. The danger of civilizations – and of political culture generally – serving as blanket explanations.
  • The importance of elite political culture. Two dimensions: a) the elite’s faith in its right to rule and b) its willingness to compromise. Lijphart’s consociational democracy in Austria and the Netherlands – and in Belgium today.
  • Political culture in authoritarian states. Founded on a traditional culture favouring authority and strong leadership – or is culture the effect rather than the cause? The example of Russia.

Figures and tables


Multiple choice questions


Essays and term papers

  1. How, if at all, does political culture enhance the stability and effectiveness of liberal democracies?
  2. Is there a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West?

Hague & Harrop, 2013 edn, ch.7.

G. Almond and S. Verba, The Civic Culture
G. Almond and S. Verba, The Civic Culture Revisited
S. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Making of World Order
R. Inglehart, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society
S. Lipset, Political Man
G. Marks and L. Diamond, Reexamining Democracy: Essays in Honor of Seymour
Martin Lipset
P. Norris, Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited
P. Norris and R. Inglehart, Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide
S. Pharr and R. Putnam, Disaffected Democracies: What’s Troubling The Trilateral Countries?
R. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
M. Steven Fish, Are Muslims Distinctive? A Look at the Evidence



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