Political Culture

Topics: Sociology, Religion, Political culture Pages: 5 (1601 words) Published: March 4, 2013
This paper will define political cultural and it will also discuss three major influences on political culture in Ireland. To demonstrate this, this paper will explain political culture in a simple way and it will discuss the civic culture theory and Marxist tradition which will illustrate different views on the role and nature of political culture. The three major influences that this paper will discuss are socio-economic development, cultural evolution political experience in Ireland. The notion of political culture is how people view the political system as a whole. It is the way in which people respond and act towards the political system. Pye (1995 p.965) defines political culture as “the sum of the fundamental values, sentiments and knowledge that give form and substance to political processes”. Heywood’s view on political culture is that it is ‘the pattern of orientations to political objects such as parties, government, the constitution, expressed beliefs, symbols and values. Political culture differs from public opinion in that it is fashioned out of long-term values rather than simply people’s reactions to specific policies and problems’ (Heywood, 2002: 200). The process through which we learn about politics and how our political attitudes and values can be influenced is through political socialization. The main agents of political socialization are the family, education, mass media and the government. Two American scholars, Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, studied political culture and published a book a book of their studies, ‘The Civic Culture’. Its purpose was to identify the political culture within which a liberal democracy was most likely to survive and develop. Almond and Verba (1989) identified three pure types of political culture the parochial, subject and participant. ‘A parochial political culture is marked by the absence of a sense of citizenship, with people identifying with their locality rather than the nation, and having neither the desire nor the ability to participate in politics. A subject political culture is characterized by more passivity amongst citizens, and the recognition that they have only a very limited capacity to influence government. A participant political culture is one in which citizens pay close attention to politics and regard popular participation as both desirable and effective.’ (Heywood 2002:206). ‘Almond and Verba’s core idea was that democracy will prove most stable in societies where subject and parochial attitudes provide ballast to an essentially participant culture. This mix is termed ‘civic culture’. In this ideal combination, citizens are sufficiently active in politics to express their preferences to rulers but are not so involved as to refuse to accept decisions with which they disagree.’ (Hague, 1998: 60). A very different view of the role and nature of political culture has been developed within the Marxist tradition. In Marx’s view ‘ideas and culture are part of a superstructure that is conditioned or determined by the economic base, the mode of production’ (Heywood 2002: 207). These ideas have provided Marxism with two theories of culture. The first theory, in Marx’s own words, is ‘it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness’. In other words Marx believes that culture is essentially class-specific as members of a class share the same experiences and have a common economic position and interests, they are likely to have broadly similar ideas, beliefs and values. The second theory of culture ‘emphasizes the degree to which the ideas if the ruling class pervade society and become the ruling ideas of the age. In this view political culture, or even civic culture, is thus nothing more than bourgeois ideology.’ (Heywood 2002: 207). ‘Bourgeois ideology is a Marxist term, denoting ideas and theories that serve the interests of the bourgeoisie by disguising the contradictions of...
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