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What is Political Culture?

By Jason C. Chavis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Political culture is the concept by which a nation or group of people maintain similar political philosophies and viewpoints. This can directly impact the way the a country acts towards other countries in both foreign relations and general comparison of societies. The citizens of the country generally approve or disapprove of their system of government and may push it on others. In the case of totalitarian control, it can either lead to submission or rebellion. Within the nation itself, political culture can lead to party systems and often is directly related to an individual's position in life.

Facets that impact political culture on a national level are generally created by shared concepts that the society possesses. These paradigms are the position in which the society takes on issues such as morals, economics and government power. Due to the legal and social structure of the society, the overall political culture determines how the structure of power is established and which traditions are adopted to determine that structure.

There are general principles that the society needs to determine in order to find its political culture. The culture's standards are generally determined by the country's religious views and whether it focuses on the individual or is more family-oriented. Another major component is the question of whether the society practices full equality or is class-based with certain members getting more rights than others. Various factors regarding tradition, race and sex are strongly influenced in this decision.

Varying degrees by which the nation determines its political culture impact what form of society is created. When the society essentially operates without a central authority, it is referred to as anarchism, while on the opposite end of the spectrum is the concept of communism, where every right and action of the individual is determined by the state. Other types include an oligarchy in which the leadership is controlled by an elite group, Tory corporatism in which tradition and a hierarchy mandate society, and fascist corporatism in which an authoritarian body mandates politics. Liberalism is separated into two spectrum, classical liberalism and radical liberalism. The former believes in limited government and individual liberty, while the latter believes there is a social purpose for government.

On a national level, political culture creates political parties or philosophies that help determine how people act and government functions. For example, in the United States, there are two main political parties: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Democrats have a more liberal view, while the Republicans have a more conservative view. Another example is the United Kingdom, which is divided in power between the Conservatives, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats. Each operates with a political culture on the spectrum from right to left regarding the importance of government's function in society.

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Discussion Comments

By cafe41 — On Oct 31, 2010

Suntan12-This is why all of the political news points to an avalanche in the 2010 mid term elections.

The American people feel that they are governed against their will and the Health care bill is a prime example. When the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi says that we will have to pass a bill to see what is in it, it makes the American people angry because these people in congress are there to represent us and our voices.

Clearly the democrats passed the bill anyway which will only create more misery for the American people and destroy the best healthcare system in the world.

President Reagan transformed the 1980s political culture. When he took office in 1980, unemployment was 10%, and interest rates were about 20% with double digit inflation. The tax rate was also 70% for the top rate.

President Reagan cut taxes to 24% for the highest tax rate, lowered interest rates to just 4% as well as inflation to 4%. In addition, the unemployment rate went down to about 4% because President Reagan tax policies allowed businesses to create 25 million new jobs.

What we need now is another President Reagan not a continuity of the Jimmy Carter administration’s policies that led Americans to have a misery index like we have now.

By suntan12 — On Oct 31, 2010

GreenWeaver- They will become less productive or move somewhere else. This is why the United States is facing such an economic slump because in order to spur economic activity you have to encourage entrepreneurship which is a risk.

People are not going to take a risk if there is no potential for reward. This is the reason why people from all over the world want to live in the United States because 80% of millionaires in this country are first time millionaires.

This means that if you work hard and seize opportunities no other country will provide opportunities for success like this one.

We have to go back to our capitalist roots and starts giving businesses tax breaks as well as citizen’s tax breaks. The consensual political culture of the United States is for far less government. Most citizens want to go back to their capitalist nation of limited government.

This is due to the extreme disgust that the American people are having with the current way our country is being managed.

By GreenWeaver — On Oct 31, 2010

Crispety-The democratic political culture in Europe is that of a socialist nature.

Where else would they protest a raising of a retirement age to just 62, when most French citizens are afforded six weeks vacations and often only work a 32 hour work week.

In the United States, also suffering from Obama’s failed socialist policies people understand that governments can't just give benefits indefinitely. Socialism results in economic failure because it taxes its citizens so much that it leaves them less likely to create and expand businesses which hire more people.

It takes incentives to create away because people will not produce just to pay the federal government. This socialist agenda of Obama goes against American's culture society.

By Crispety — On Oct 31, 2010

The political culture and democracy in developing countries is leaning more conservative right now.

Many European democracies facing economic collapse have resorted to cost cutting measures that will eventually balance their governmental budgets. Gone are the days of deficit spending, as these governments are realizing that there is a cost to government spending and it does not result in any economic stimulus which is what these countries need.

As a result, France has risen its retirement age to 62, and Great Britain has eliminated a welfare benefit afforded to all citizens that have children.

This monthly stipend was given to all parents of British children regardless of need. It was done so in order to remove the stigma of governmental aid. Greece was probably the first to report a possible economic collapse, but there people were allowed to retire at age 50.

This growing conservative viewpoint is the political culture of the new west.

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