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Lecture 9

Lecture 9 - From Political Culture to Social Capital

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Political Science
Joseph Roman

March 11, 2014 From Political Culture to Social Capital • Understanding political culture • The role of political cleavages on political culture • Civic cultures • Post-materialism • The possibilities and problem of social capital What is Political Culture? • Patterns of beliefs and bales about politics • Values as individuals’ethical principles in the world of politics • Political cultures affect the stability of structures, institutions, and democracy • Apolitical culture has to have faith in democracy but not necessarily in governments • Political cultures as a map that simplifies how people think and feel about politics • Political socialization and the intergenerational transfer of political cultures – politic cultures last over time InterestsAffecting Political Culture • Material interests  Money, taxes, comfort • Ideal interests  Matters of Left and Right and how the political world is interpreted, defined, explained, etc. • Material and ideal interests depend on a number of axes of identities • Material and ideal interests are a reflection of how people see themselves, engendering political identities that people may act on Political Cleavages • Political cultures are affected by cleavages • For a cleavage to come a cleavage, it needs: 1. Objective social differences 2. Subjective awareness 3. Political organization • Cleavage lines: religion, ethnicity, geography • Reinforced vs. cross-cutting cleavages • Homogeneous countries lack cleavages • Weak cleavages see non-class based differences becoming the main organizing principle of politics Elite Cultures • Close-knit communities • Highly educated • Middle- and upper-class • Organized around specific ideas that elaborate and systemize the world they inhabit - view of the masses and their role within society • Privy to greater amounts of information and, in turn, they cover a broader range of issues • Ideologues – unwilling to compromise their world view, Conservatism or Liberalism Theories of Political Cultures I: Marxist and Class Theory • Base and superstructure • Institutions reproduce existing social relations and, in turn, create a false consciousness that explains why behaviors an attitudes running counter to working class interests prevail • Gramscian hegemony • The problem with Marxist and class theory; How do we know what people are thinking, especially if people are made up of multiple identities? Theories of Political Cultures II: Elite Theory • Reaction to Marxist and class theory • Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Robert Michels, and C. Wright Mills • Politics are dominated by a small group of people, i.e. elites • Elites decay over time and have to be replaced – always changing • Circulation of elites • Mass democracy is impossible • Problem with elite theory is that it is too mechanical and it cannot explain the role that non-elites play in the circulation of elites • Does tell us much about the relations that go on amongst non-elites and how these relationships affect policies Theories of Political Cultures III: Rational Choice • People participate by calculating the costs and benefits of doing so • Self-interest drives political behavior • Free-riders – riding on the coat-tails of others Ex: going out and voting – why bother, 1 vote doesn’t make a difference • Problem with rational choice is that “rationality” is defined in an economist manner The Civic Culture • GabrielAlmond and Sidney Verba’s The Civic Culture • What sustains a democracy? • Civic competence and civic allegiance and the impact on the viability of democracy • Democracy can cope with low levels of mass support for policies and actors but not for its norms, principles, and institutions The Elements of Political Culture in The Civic Culture 1. Cognition: Do people have knowledge of a political system’s guts? 2. Affective: Do people feel that politics are worthwhile enough to
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