Comparative Politics Today Notes Chapter 3.doc

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University of California - San Diego
Political Science
Kaare Strom

Poli Sci Notes Chapter 3: Political Culture: public attitudes toward politics and their role within the political system. Studying a political culture partially explains how a political community is created and sustained. A political culture includes its citizens’ orientations at three levels: the political system, the political and policymaking process, and policy outputs and outcomes. The system level involves how people view the values and organizations that comprise the political system. The process level includes expectations of the political rules and decision-making methods, and individuals’ relationship to the government. The policy level deals with the public’s policy expectations for the government. Political Socialization: how individuals form their political attitudes and thus, collectively, how citizens form their political culture. The System Level: Legitimacy: the legitimacy of a power or government. It presumes an agreement on the broad form of government that defines the political system and thus the standards of legitimacy. It reflects a basic understanding between citizens and authorities. The higher the legitimacy, the better they are at carrying out policies. A political system can break down if the legitimacy is too low, where the public disputes boundaries of the political system, rejects the current arrangements for recruiting leaders and making policies, or loses confidence that the leaders are fulfilling their part of the political bargain (ie why the Soviet Union disintegrated in the 1990s). The Process Level: - The second level of political culture involves what the public expects of the political process. - We’ve developed our understanding of political cultures in developing countries, developing our understanding of political culture globally. - Democracy is on the rise, especially in developing nations, and although there is still Communism in the world, it no longer represents a progressive force for global change. Although most of the world supports democracy, people differ in their understanding and opinions concerning democracy. The person’s role in the political system: • Those with greater economies and marketization have better access to and are more interested in politics. • Resources, skills, and active citizenship are lacking in developing countries • Modernization: the reshaping of political culture in the face of new modern influences. It is spread unevenly across the globe. Where social and economic modernization occurs, the political culture transforms to promote more self-expression, participatory values, and autonomy. The Policy Level: - Public images of what constitutes the good of society and the government’s role in achieving these goals influence the policy activities of a country. i.e., big gov’t vs. small gov’t - Support for government action generally decreases as a nation’s affluence increases. - Policy expectations: One basic measure of a government’s performance is its ability to meet the policy expectations of its citizens. - The functions of the government, and what laws they emphasize in upholding, are important. - Values and beliefs can vary within different nations for their political cultures. - Political Subcultures: the broken up groups of people with adamant beliefs and opinions about political values that persist over time. Where the political subcultures coincide with ethnic, linguistic, or religious differences, the divisions can be enduring and threatening. The exposure to other values may intensify one’s self-image, which can cause tension in cultures. Although exposure can lead to a greater tolerance, it can also intensify one’s self-image and the positive outcome is not guaranteed. - Cultural norms typically change slowly and reflect stable values. Thus, political culture is important because it encapsulates the history, traditions, and values of a society. Political culture can create the common political community that is one goal of government. The distribution of political patterns is typically related to the type of political process that citizens expect and support. Political norms represent the “Rules of the Game” for the political system. Where political structures and political cultures are mutually reinforced, a stable political system is likely to emerge. Culture can divide nations and regions of the world. - There is normally a relationship between political culture and political structures. Political Socialization: the way in which political values are formed and political culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. The socialization can happen in different ways: • First: o Direct Socialization: involves an actor explicitly communicating information, values, or feelings toward politics. o Indirect Socialization: when political views are inadvertently molded by our experiences. • Second, socialization is a lifelong process: o Early life experiences tend to shape a person’s political values, but major experiences
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