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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.”
People of a society share a common human nature like emotional drives,intellectual capacities and moral perspectives and this expresses itself in the form of certain values,beliefs and emotional attitudes which get transmitted from one generation to another with lesser or greater changes / modifications and that defines the political situation in which political action takes place.
India has a multiple political culture due variety in traditions,tribalism,primordialism,religion influences,caste,traditions and conventions,etc existing in different parts of it.

Almond and Powell has discussed Political Culture in regards to the following three dimensions:
i) Cognitive Orientations – Implying knowledge accurate or otherwise.
ii) Affection Orientations – Implying feelings of attachment,involvement,rejection in regards to political objects.
iii) Evaluative orientations – Implying judgements and opinions about a political system.

Almond and Finer analysed Political culture from the perspective of the participation that the society allows in the political process.

Almond and Verba have given a 3 dimensional view of Political culture :
i) Parochial political culture – Is present in those societies where specialisation does not exist and only one  or two institutions are authoritative regarding all functions of that society and only one arch ruler is there who heads that institution thus having hegemony and unfettered power. People in such a society are not educated and informed about the mechanism and even if they have it is insufficient to form any opinion. And so the rule or dictatorship of the one ruler continues unopposed.

ii) Subject political Culture – Is present in such societies that were under colonial power at some point in time. Here two types of people’s attitudes towards political system prevails,one of absolute subordination and one of absolute revolt at different points in time.

iii) Participant Political culture –  Is present in such societies having a high level of development and people in it have sufficient awareness and knowledge regarding their rights and duties and thus, play an active role in the discharge of functions. This type of a culture is practiced in India to quite an extent.

Robert Dahl has bestowed upon Political culture the title of the single most important factor that explains different patterns of political opposition:
i) Orientation of problem solving – Whether the opposition is interested in being rational and pragmatic in solving the issues raised.
ii) Orientation to collective actions – Whether the opposition is cooperative or not in discharge of functions of itself or others.
iii) Orientation to political system – Whether the opposition is active/passive or alienates itself.
iv) Orientation towards other people – Whether the opposition is full of tests or not.

Talcott Parsons look to find out the role of predispositions of people like historical memories,norms,emotions,symbols,etc. towards political actions  Their studies in Political culture have been done using two traditional approaches:
i) Individualistic Approach – It examines the values and attitudes of individuals through some technique of survey or feedback obtained from respondents(people). It is a direct method but limitations are that the respondents may not be able to express their feelings at many times. Further, the questionnaire itself may be so designed as to eliminate the political view of the people. The feelings mentioned by the people also may lead to all sorts of understandings and be very subjective.

ii) Institutional Approach – Involves documents analysis to discern collective behaviour of political institutions. It pursues the following three dimensions:
a) Academic deliberation to surface features of constitution,political structure and legislative framework.
b) Analysis of the Geographical and social operators in the State.
c) Analysis of historical events that have shaped political views.


1) Traditional Political Culture – Where the political system and people’s attitude towards it are influenced by primordial characters and conventions / traditions.

2) Modern Political culture – Where the political system and people’s attitudes towards it are influenced by constitution,rule of law,Independent Judiciary,Liberalism,duly elected body of public bureaucracy as an efficient instrument to enforce the law.

In India there exists an amalgamation of both living in confrontation and cooperation.  Like bureaucracy is there but it functions keeping in mind the conventions and traditions of the society. Reservation system in politics is based on caste and tribe division. And the constitution spells out the rest that consists of modern political culture.

1) Strengths – It helps in providing a comprehensive analysis to the part of political science dealing with political aspirations and people living in the State.
It links the beliefs,attitudes and value of the people in the State with the political system of the State.
It helps bridge gaps of philosophy since it deals with human psychosis that could not be explained by other principles.
It has encouraged political scientists to take into account the social and cultural factors in their analysis for the purpose of better framework of their policies and connect between different societies.
It helps in gaining a better view of human behaviour towards political arrangement in different societies.
It provides a conceptual basis that facilitates forecasting to an extent.

2) Limitations  – Its findings are considered to have subjective aspects in its conclusions as it is dealing with factors like human emotions,feelings,perceptions,etc.
It has been observed that in the studies of Political culture there is always a risk that researchers may neglect certain factors in order to achieve validation of their hypothesis.
Diversity in society may create problems in deriving conclusions.
Embodiment of the feelings/perception may not be verbally in the desired direction.

READ More :

What is political culture of India?How has it impacted the working of administration in India?

Public Administration by G.Rajput

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