(Online Course) Pub Ad for IAS Mains: Philosophical and Constitutional Framework of Government - Political Culture (Paper -2)

(Online Course) Public Administration for IAS Mains Exams

Topic: Philosophical and Constitutional framework of government: Political Culture

Political culture can be defined as “The orientation of the citizens of a nation toward politics, and their perceptions of political legitimacy and the tradition of political practice,” and the feelings expressed by individuals in the position of the elected offices that allow for the nurture of a political society. Political culture is how we think government should be carried out. It is different from ideology because people can disagree on ideology, but still have a common political culture. Political scientist Sidney Verba, describes political culture as a “system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols, and values, which defines the situation in which political action takes place.”

Political Culture as Shared Paradigms

One way to understand political culture is in terms of the shared paradigms that co-exist within a single particular society. This involves identifying the various culture within the society other than the dominant culture. Some of the variables used to define a political culture are its paradigms about government economics and morality. There are several distinctions which can be made in identifying political cultures. One distinction is whether it is a belief of the culture that its basic unit is is the individual or the family. Another distinction is to ask whether the concept of the culture is cooperative or competitive. Yet another distinction is whether the culture believes the society should be organized hierarchically or is egalitarian. Whether reason or tradition serves as justification, is yet another.

William Stewart: Eight Political Cultures

(1) Anarchism: An anarchist political culture only exists in small societies in which there are no strangers. Every persons has face to face accountability, and will have to continue to live together. The paradigms about society and the role of the individual are shared strongly among all of its members. In such a society institutions of government are not necessary. Family contacts and their constant reinforcement through personnel contact hold the single-culture society together.

(2) Tory Corporatism: A Tory corporatist political culture presumes that responsibility to the group is more important than individual needs and desires. Tradition is the justification of the tory culture. The immediate family connections form its basis. The corporatist culture takes cooperation as fare more important that competition.

(3) Oligarchy: Oligarchy is a political culture where a particular corporate group in a society promotes its own welfare by exploiting others. While the tory accepts that the whole society is one big family and for the anarchist the entire society is the family; for the oligarch, there is a great division between his or her family and the rest of society.

(4) Classical Liberalism: The classical liberal political culture is not based on tradition as tory corporatism and oligarchy are the based in rationally. It takes the individual as the basic unit of society and is competitive rather than cooperative.

(5) Radical Liberalism: The radical liberal shares all of the same paradigms as the classical liberal, however it differs in that its hierarchical nature does not apply to its elections, and its competitive nature is more limited.

(6) Democratic Socialism: The democratic socialist political culture is much like radical liberalism, however it attempts to be more egalitarian. They believe that the government is an instrument of changing the prevailing economic paradigm. They are collectivist rather than competitive.

(7) Leninist Socialism: Leninist socialists like other socialists take rationality as the justification for their culture. The believe that the rich lie and perpetuate paradigms which support their won interests. While they reject a social hierarchy, the government itself is rigidly hierarchical.

(8) Fascist Corporatism: While the tory corporatist culture is established and on-going, the fascist corporatist attempts to create such a culture by force. The tory takes tradition as the legitimate basis of society, while the fascist makes some form of appeal to rationality. The fascist attempts to recreate the conditions of tory corporatism as a response to Leninist socialism.

Political Culture as Political Philosophy

Political culture is a distinctive and patterned form of political philosophy that consist of benefits on how governmental, political, and economic life should be carried out. Political cultures create a framework for political change and are unique to nations, states, and other groups. A political culture differs from for political ideology in that people can disagree on an ideology (what government should do) but still share a common political culture. Some ideologies, however, are so critical of the status quo that they require a fundamental change in the way government is operated, and therefore embody a different political culture as well.

The term political culture was brought into political science to promote the American political system. The concept was used by Gabriel Almond in late 50s, and outlined in The Civic Culture (1963, Almond & Verba), but was soon opposed by two European political scientists – Gerhard Lehmbruch and Arend Ulphart. Lembruch analysed politics in Switzerland and SAustralia and Lijphart analysed politics in Netherlands. Both arqueed that there are political systems that are more stable than the one in the USA.

Type of Political Culture Almond & Verba—Three pure types of Politicial Culture

Parochial: Where citizens are only remotely aware of the presence of central government, and live their lives near enough regardless of the decision taken by the state. Distant and unaware of political phenomena. He was neither knowledge nor interest in politics. In general congruent with a traditional political structure.

Subject: Where citizens are aware of central government and are heavily subjected to its decision with little scope for dissent. The individual is aware of politics, its actions and institutions.

Participant: Citizens are able to influence the government in various ways and they are affected by it.

These three ‘Pure’ types of Political culture can combine to create the ‘Civic Culture’, which mixes the best element of each.


There are two types of political culture:

(a) Political Culture of masses
(b) Political Culture of elite

Classification of the Political Culture of the masses:

(a) Coalitional
(b) Contradictive

Lijphart also classified structure of the society:

(a) Homogeneous
(b) Heterogeneous

The most Stable Political System is consociative democracy which has the heterogeneous society in which all parts of the society work together and not contradict each other. Those kind of system are common in Scandinavian Countries.

For Full Material Join Public Administration Online Coaching

Buy Printed Study Kit for Public Administration for IAS Mains Exams

<< Go Back to Main Page