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
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Communism in the world, it no longer represents a progressive force for global change.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
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:
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
• Second, socialization is a lifelong process:
o Early life experiences tend to shape a person’s political values, but major experiences