Chapter 3: Political Culture and Political Socialization


I.                   Political Culture

a.      Citizens orientations toward the political system, political and policymaking process and policy outputs and outcomes (or the distribution of orientations toward political objects)


II.                Mapping the three levels of political culture:

a.      System level – citizens and leaders views of values and organizations holding the system together


1.     taps basic commitments to the political System

2.     common identity – patriotism, national pride

3.     legitimacy provides foundation – citizens “ought to obey”

a.      legitimacy depends on system method of leader selection, tradition, ideology, citizen participation

b.     eg: democracy – competitive elections and following the constitution

c.     systems w/low legitimacy: political violence may emerge



b.     Process level – expectations of how politics should function and individual’s relationship to the political process


1.     What do we expect out of government?

a.      Participants – involved & informed

b.     Subjects – passive obedience

c.     Parochials – limited awareness


c.     Policy level – citizens and leaders policy expectations FROM the government.


1.     Policy expectations – big government vs. small government debates

2.     Expectations of Government Process


III.             Consensus and Conflict – Political Culture


a.      Consensual – citizens tend to agree on decisionmaking process and major problems facing society

b.     Conflictual  – deep, persistent divisions across political attitudes exist

A.               distinct political subcultures may emerge as a result

B.                so distinctive that agents/types of socialization may differ as well

1.     eg: Russia today;

2.     Cuban-Americans

*when pol.subculture coincides with ethnic, national or religious differences – divisions can be threatening to stability of society (cumulative effect)


IV.            Political Socialization


a.      The process by which we acquire of beliefs, values and attitudes about a particular political system (our own, usually)

b.     Direct and indirect processes of learning

A.               Direct: explicit communication of info,values, feelings toward politics ex: civic courses; indoctrination programs (Taliban, Osama bin Laden trainees)

B.                Indirect: inadvertent molding of political views by life experiences – especially significant for children

                                                                                                  i.      Current situation in USA?

c.     Continuance throughout life

d.     Lifelong learning – childhood foundation plus LIFE – marriage, death, parenthood, critical events, moving, new job (events most significantly effect young people)


V.               Unification or Division


a.      Patterns of socialization can do both

b.     Social groups w/own sources of news, own sources of culture separate selves from larger society


VI.            Agents


                   A.      Family

                   B.      School

                   C.      Religious Institutions

          D.      Peer Groups

                   E.      Social Class and Gender

          F.      Mass Media

                   G.      Interest Groups

          H.      Political Parties

I.                   Direct Contact with governmental structures


VII.         Trends in contemporary political cultures


A.      Result of similar environmental conditions and exposure to the same historic events => create a trend that may take political culture into a slightly different realm than we would expect given regular processes of socialization

                   B.      Current trends (examples)

1.     Modernization – secularizing effect of science, control over nature (its not a message from God, its an eclipse)

a.      This process can be disruptive for traditional societies

1.     Taliban was in revolt against this

2.     Religious leaders in Iran, Saudi Arabia also in revolt


2.     Post-industrialization – a byproduct of modernization – people who have come of age in a period of prosperity are less concerned with the achievement and maintenance of wealth – they assume it as a constant

a.      Post-material values: equality, environmental protection (tree dwellers), self-expression, cultural pluralism (Tiger Woods, anti-globalization movement)

b.     These values are the source of movements – restore freedoms (source of concern about civil liberties today – 352 people were “detained” in the aftermath of 9/11 and Ashcroft, Attorney General requested the power to detain immigrants indefinitely)

c.     Ethnicity resurgence – demand for equality – dangerous types of clashes – uncertain outcomes


3.     Democratization

a.      Trend toward democracy an outcome of both Modernization and current events

b.     People more critical of functioning of democracy (trust in government)

1.     Has legitimacy declined in the United States?

2.     If so, what are some causes of this decline?

c.     Self-Determination – people still supportive of democracy – want more freedom (internet, speech, media access)

1.     The consequences of freedom are controversial

2.     Freedom brings good and bad

1.     free speech – pornography

2.     criminal justice systems must be mostly re-active

4.     Marketization

a.      Greater acceptance of free markets and private profit

b.     Less governmental management of economies (China, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union)

1.     Is support for marketization an outcome of socialization?

2.     Is socialization a global phenomena or is it purely domestic?)

C.      Conclusion: political culture and socialization are dynamic; not static phenomena