Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture (1963), Chapter 1.

(See notes on Almond and Verba (1980) for the findings of this study.)
Summary of the book: interpersonal trust is a prerequisite to the formation of secondary associations, which in turn is essential to effective political participation in any large democracy.  A sense of trust is also required for the functioning of the democratic rules of the game: one must view the opposition as a loyal opposition, who will not imprison or execute you if you surrender political power but can be relied upon to govern within the laws and to surrender political power reciprocally if your side wins the next election.
The logic here is the following: no trust, no secondary associations, no genuine political participation, and no democracy.
Method: comparative study of the US, UK, Germany, Italy and Mexico, selected because they represent a wide range of political-historical experience.
Important Insight: the civic culture is key to the proper functioning of democracy, and is defined as an allegiant participant culture – a mixture of the modern with the traditional. It is modern in the sense that it is participant, but it is traditional (via the subject and parochial orientations) as well, with tradition keeping in check the participant political orientations, leading to a balance of political activity, involvement and rationality with passivity, traditionality, and commitment to parochial values.
Critique: Italian and German respondents rank relatively low on interpersonal trust, and this is taken to mean something about political culture. But with data from only one time point, it cannot be determined whether these findings could be attributed to short-term factors – perhaps the harsh conditions of the post-war era – or whether they reflected more enduring differences.
*a democratic form of participatory political system requires as well a political culture consistent with it – namely a ‘participatory’ rather than ‘subject’ or parochial political culture. But the transfer of the political culture of the Western democratic states to the emerging nations encounters serious difficulties. There are two principal reasons for this.
*The first concerns the nature of the democratic culture itself: the working principles of the democratic polity and its civic culture – the ways in which political elites make decisions, their norms and attitudes, as well as the norms and attitudes of the ordinary citizen, his relation to government and to his fellow citizens – have the more diffuse properties of belief systems or of codes of personal relations, which spread only with great difficulty.
*The second concerns the objective problems confronting these nations: they are entering history with archaic technologies and social systems, drawn toward the gleam and power of the technological and scientific revolutions – drawing them towards a technocratic image of the polity, in which authoritarian bureaucracy predominates and political organization becomes a device for human and social engineering.
*the civic culture is not a modern culture, but a mixed modernizing-traditional one (see notes for The Civic Culture Revisited).
(definition: the term political culture refers to the specifically political orientations – attitudes toward the role of the self in the system.
*the political culture of a nation is the particular distribution of patterns of
orientation toward political objects among the members of the nation.
**there are three broad classes of objects in the political system:
***1) specific roles or structures (e.g. legislative bodies)
***2) incumbents of roles (e.g. particular legislators)
***3) particular public policies
*distinction between ‘input’ (political) and ‘output’ (administrative) processes)
*three pure types of political culture:
*parochial political culture: no specialized political roles (roles are political-economic-religious); a comparative absence of expectations of change initiated by the political system; feelings toward the government are uncertain or negative, and there is no internalization of norms to regulate the relations of individuals to government.
*subject political culture: high frequency of orientations toward a differentiated political system and toward the output aspects of the system, but orientations toward specifically input objects, and toward the self as an active participant, approach 0.
*participant political culture: members of society tend to be explicitly oriented to the system as a whole and to both the political and administrative structures and processes: in other words, to both the input and output aspects of the political system.
*in addition to these three pure forms of political culture, there are three types of systematically mixed political cultures (potentially on their way to a pure form):
*parochial-subject: a substantial portion of the population has rejected the exclusive claims of diffuse tribal, village, or feudal authority and has developed allegiance toward a more complex political system with specialized central governmental structures (e.g. Ottoman Empire).
*subject-participant: a substantial portion of the population has acquired specialized input orientations and an activist set of self-orientations, while most of the remained continue to be oriented in a subject-fashion.
*parochial-participant: the structural norms that have been introduced are participant, but the culture is parochial.
*the connecting link between micro and macro politics is political culture.
*critique: suffers from ahistoricity due to its ‘snapshot’ of attitudes at a single point in time. Also, the use of individual survey data to depict a society’s political culture is problematic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *