What is Political Culture? – Meaning and Types of Political Culture
Definition of Culture
As two or more individuals relate to one another, they develop ideas, expectations, attitudes, norms and beliefs about their common activities. In short, they created a ‘culture’. So a culture developed as a result of our interaction with one another. Most people are born and socialized into a culture which they can really do nothing about.
A culture implies that totality of our been including the way we speak, eat, dress, and relate to the other person. A culture is therefore a way of life and it varies from one nationality group to the other. The culture of the Yoruba is, for instance, markedly different from that of the Hausa in terms of the rearing of children, marriage, inheritance etc.
Meaning of Political Culture
Political culture is that aspect of the culture of a people, which deals with politics. It refers to the set of attitudes and beliefs that relate to the political system and political issues and objects.
In other words, political culture refers to those things, which the people carry in their heads in relation to political objects and events.
Political culture deals mainly with what the people believe about the government, political parties, pressure groups, politicians, etc. It has to do with the people’s orientation towards the formal and informal political structures.
For example, a large proportion of the population in most third world countries though yet to be empirically verified – believe that most of the people holding elective political office in the country are not the best the country can offer, and thus, the perennial political problem of poor governance and under development.
Every political culture has sub-cultures. A political culture developed where there are marked differences between one group and other groups in the political system.
In this case, there exists a distinct set of attitudes, beliefs and values – although a group may sometimes share these traits with some other groups in the system. The African-Americans are, no doubt, different from their white counterparts but all the different groups (whether White, Black, Hispanic, etc.) have come to accept the hegemony of the American nation.
In some cases, however, a political sub-culture may be antagonistic to the dominant political culture and may not accept the state structure as representing their interests. It may be so antagonistic has to come for the breakup of the country.
What are the Factors Affecting Political Culture?
Every political culture is a product of several interrelated factors. They include;
This topic is published on another page. Click Here – Factors Affecting Political Culture – to read.
Types of Political Culture
Almond and Verba (1965) in their study of five countries (Britain, Italy, USA, Mexico and the former Germany) used two factors, namely,
- Attitudes to political objects
- The degree to which citizens feel they can influence and participate in the decision-making process to classify political cultures into pure and mixed types.
The political culture were grouped into two different parts;
- Pure Types of Political Culture
- Mixed Types of Political Culture
Pure Types of Political Culture
The pure types include the following:
In a parochial political culture, the attitudes of the citizen towards political objects are extremely weak and he does not relate himself in any positive way to national political institutions, and national questions and policies nor does he see himself as capable of affecting them. In short, he is interested only in local, village, or ethnic politics.
Here, the citizen is strongly aware of the political system and its output (e.g laws and policies) and he may like or dislike them. But he does not even know how to channel his demands all the quests or how to influence government policies in his favour. Thus, while the output institutions, such as legislature, are highly developed in the subject culture, the input institutions, such as political parties, pressure groups, etc are likely to be only weakly developed.
A participant culture is a culture in which the citizen has a high awareness and possibly a high involvement in politics. He is likely to play an active role in politics.
The parochial, subject and participants cultures do not exist in reality and as such, the following mixed types which are more likely to be found in the real world have been developed.
Mixed Types of Political Culture
There are four mixed types of political cultures:
Parochial – Subject Political Culture
The parochial subject political culture is a combination of parochial and subject types. The citizen is moving away from purely local political attachments and begins to develop loyalty towards more specialised government institutions.
In this type, the individual is not politically conscious. Political parties as well as pressure groups are generally weak. This type of political culture is usually found in developing countries like Nigeria.
Subject Participant Culture
In a subject participant political culture, there are two categories or citizens. They are; the politically aware and active people and the relatively passive people.
The politically aware people are sensitive to all types of political objects and believe that they can influence political events.
The subject participants political culture is common in developed countries like Britain, France, Italy and Germany.
Parochial Participant Political Culture
A parochial participants political culture comprises output institutions (that is, bodies that make laws and policies e.g Parliament), which are fairly well-developed. government tends to encourage popular participation in the form of mass rallies, nationalistic appeals and national elections. The problem, however, is that national institutions may be captured by local or sectional interests.
Examples of this political culture are found in the military, the Civil service and political parties in developing countries.
The Civic culture has two main elements. The first is the notion of participation by the people in government. This helps the people to develop both a sense of potential personal competence and a sense of trusting other people. the second feature of a Civic culture is that government is allowed to act fairly and freely because of the norm of participation. This makes the people to be at ease with the government. Participation may, however, limit the freedom of the government as any abuse of its freedom to act may be easily resisted by the people who are capable of asserting their rights.