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The Many Voices of Political Culture: Assessing Different Approaches

  • Richard W. Wilson (a1)

Works in political culture have employed a variety of approaches with different assumptions and methodologies. Commentary on the field, however, generally fails to take account of these differences or to assess the merits of the different approaches. Recent works that typify five different approaches are evaluated in terms of the ways that they conceptualize preference formation and the linkage between preferences and cultural norms. The tendency in most approaches to conflate preferences and norms points to the need for further theoretical development.

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1 Verba, Sidney, “Comparative Political Culture,” in Pye, Lucian W. and Verba, Sidney, eds., Political Culture and Political Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), 513.

2 Pye, Lucian W., “Political Culture,” in International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 12, Sills, David L. (New York: Macmillan and Free Press, 1968), 218.

3 Preez, Peter du, A Science of Mind: The Questfor Psychological Reality (London: Academic Press, 1991), 101–2.

4 See, as examples, Dittmer, Lowell, “Political Culture and Political Symbolism: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis,” World Politics 29 (July 1977); Edelman, Murray, Constructing the Political Spectacle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988); Edles, Laura Desfor, Symboland Ritual in theNew Spain: The Transition to Democracy after Franco (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Fernandez, James, Persuasions and Performances (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986); Kapferer, Bruce, Legends ofPeople, Myths ofState (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1988); Moore, Sally F. and Myerhoff, Barbara G., Secular Ritual (Assen, Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 1977); Ortner, Sherry B., High Religion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989).

5 Aronoff, Myron J., Power andRitual in the Israel Labor Party (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1992); Geertz, Clifford, Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980); and Kubik, Jan, The Power of Symbols against the Symbols of Power: The Rise of Solidarity 2nd the Fall of State-Socialism in Poland (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993).

6 Aronoff, , Israeli Visions and Divisions: Cultural Change and Political Conflict (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1989), xvxvi.

7 See, as examples, Douglas, Mary, ed., Essays in the Sociology ofPerception (Boston: Routledge Kegan Paul, 1982); Douglas, Mary and Wildavsky, Aaron, Risk and Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); Ellis, Richard J., American Political Cultures (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); Thompson, Michael, Ellis, Richard, and Wildavsky, Aaron, Cultural Theory (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1990); Wildavsky, Aaron, “Choosing Preferences by Constructing Institutions: A Cultural Theory of Preferences,” American Political Science Review 81, No. 1 (1987); idem, “In dispensable Framework or Just Another Ideology? Prisoner's Dilemma as an Antihierarchical Game,” Rationality and Society 4, no. 1 (1992).

8 Inglehart, Ronald, “Post-Materialism in an Environment of Insecurity,” American Political Science Review 75, no. 4 (1981).

9 For an attempt to incorporate psychological variables, see Dake, Karl, “Orienting Dispositions in the Perception of Risk: An Analysis of Contemporary Worldviews and Cultural Biases,” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 22, no. 1 (1991).

10 Fiske, Alan Page, Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms ofHuman Relations (New York: Free Press, 1991).

11 See, as examples, Banfield, Edward C., The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (New York: Free Press, 1967); Bell, Daniel, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 1976); Goldhagen, Daniel, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996); Inkeles, Alex, Exploring Individual Modernity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983); Metzger, Thomas A., Escapefrom Predicament: Neo-Confucianism and China's Evolving Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977); Pye, Lucian W., The Mandarin and the Cadre: China's Political Cultures (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1988); Rudolph, Lloyd I. and Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber, The Modernity of Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967); and Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing, 1996).

12 Barker, Benjamin R., Jibatt vs. McWorld (New York: Random House, 1995).

13 Putnam, Robert D., Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).

14 See, as examples, Almond, Gabriel A. and Verba, Sidney, eds., The Civic Culture Revisited (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980); Inglehart, Ronald, Culture Shift in Advanced Industrial Society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989); McClosky, Herbert and Zaller, John, The American Ethos (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984); Triandis, Harry C., “The Psychological Measurement of Cultural Syndromes,” American Psychologist 51, no. 4 (1996); and Verba, Sidney et al., Elites and the Idea of Equality (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).

15 See, as examples, Candee, Dan, “Ego Developmental Aspects of New Left Ideology,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 30, no. 5 (1974); Chilton, Stephen, Defining Political Development (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1988); Emler, Nicholas, Renwick, Stanley, and Malone, Bernadette, “The Relationship between Moral Reasoning and Political Orientation,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45, no. 5 (1983); Rosenberg, Shawn W., Reason, Ideology and Politics (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1988); Rosenberg, Shawn W., Ward, Dana, and Chilton, Stephen, Political Reasoning and Cognition; A Piagetian View (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1988); Snarey, John R., “Cross-Cultural Universality of Social-Moral Development: A Critical Review of Kohlbergian Research,” Psychological Bulletin 97, no. 2 (1985); and Wilson, Richard W., Compliance Ideologies: thinking Political Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

16 Kubik (fn. 5), 10, emphasis in original.

17 Solomon, , Mao's Revolution and the Chinese Political Culture (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971), 5.

18 Laitin, David D., “The Civic Culture at Thirty,” American Political Science Review 89, no. 1 (1995)

19 Billig, Michael et al., Ideological Dilemmas: A Social Psychology ofEveryday Thinking (London: Sage Publications, 1988), 18, 25.

20 Fiske, Alan Page and Tetlock, Philip E., “Taboo Trade-offs: Reactions to Transactions That Transgress the Spheres of Justice,” Political Psychology 18, no. 2 (1997), 284.

21 Putnam (fn. 13).

22 North, Douglass C., Structure and Change in Economic History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981), 201–2.

23 Wilson (fn. 15).

24 Wilson, Richard W., “American Political Culture in Comparative Perspective,” Political Psychology 18, no. 2 (1997).

25 Another work that utilizes a rational choice perspective although without specific reference to political culture or moral prefeences is Fearon, James D. and Laitin, David D., “Explaining Interethnic Cooperation,” American Political Science Review 90, no. 4 (1996).

26 See, as examples, Alexander, Richard D., The Biology of Moral Systems (New York: Aldine De Gruyter, 1987); Axelrod, Robert, The Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Basic Books, 1984); Barkow, Jerome H., Comides, Leda, and Tooby, John, eds., The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992); Blackmore, Susan, The Meme Machine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976); Durham, William H., Coevolution: Genes, Culture and Human Diversity (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991); and Wright, Robert, The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).

27 Eckstein, Harry, “A Culturalist Theory of Political Change,” American Political Science Review 82, no. 3 (1988).

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World Politics
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  • EISSN: 1086-3338
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