American Political Culture Memos

Subject: Culture
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1202
Topics: American Culture, Democracy, Identity, Political Science


The political culture is regarded as the political beliefs, attitudes, values, and behavioral pattern of a given population that determine relationships of the citizens with a particular political system. The distinctive feature of political culture according to most studies point out to a shared legacy that is accumulated over time consisting of both an individual’s view as a competent political actor and individual’s role perception within the political system (Chilton, 1988). The socialization process enables transmission of political culture to new members of a political community. Thus, a political culture consists of a collection of institutional solutions that have been proven to solving human survival problems and integration or adaption to both internal and external environment (Inglehart and Welzel, 2003).  

The analysis presented in this document provides a vivid description of political culture illustrating its meaning and importance among a given population. The further investigation uncovers the fundamental constituents and distinctive features of political culture from different theoretical approaches. Lastly, the analysis visualizes how political culture should be measured and studied paying specific attention to scholars in political science and a glance of providing the future directions.

Political Culture Fundamental Constituents and Features 

According to Berg-Schlossberg (2011), cognitive and evaluative models are the two fundamental constituents of a political culture where cognitive model reflects on rational processes of critical objectification while evaluation model reflects on a subjective process (right and wrong). Realistically, the behavioral patterns and the citizens’ attitudes are closely related as one affects the other in a reverse causal logic. The political culture of a given population is important as most institutions provide subjective people understanding of politics, a perception of the history, values, and the foci of their identification. 

According to Chai (1997), political institutions are shaped by the social context in which they function or operate. Consequently, political culture contains the pragmatic basis of understanding since it’s mostly experienced unconsciously. According to Inglehart and Welzel (2003), the actual conditions of politics contradict the cultural values and political patterns of a given population creating political pressures that demand political actions. However, the existence of shared political cultures in a community does not prevent political conflicts or reconcile the actual social conditions since there are presences of subcultures within the same political culture.

How Political Culture is Studied

The political science scholars regard political science as a patterned and unique form of political philosophy that creates a framework for political, economic and political change. With a differing political ideology, political institutions have to share a common political culture to operate.  Different scholars in legislative science advocate for the study of the civic literature to provide a specific political orientation and culturalist approach towards politics (Chilton, 1988). The study of pluralism, competitiveness, individualism, egalitarian, and hierarchy has led to the understanding of the influence of political culture on people’s politics. Under individualism studies, individualism reflects on how individuals cut themselves off from other people and become blind to the social structures (Inglehart and Welzel, 2003). Consequently, the individualism studies of political culture claim that the meaning, ultimate source of action and responsibilities are individually initiated rather than a group. 

Similarly, the study of patriotism in people’s political culture and its role brings about an understanding of the national identity, formation of different movements, and political involvement of people in their respective countries. The political culture is studied regarding citizenship since it is closely associated with the rational and irrational behavior and patterns of specific individuals (Chilton, 1988). For instance, different countries possess different criteria for acquiring citizenship shaping their causal beliefs and preferences. Similarly, the political culture is studies based on culture and expected utility that accounts for the economic and social contexts of a given individuals (Inglehart and Welzel, 2003). In this regard, political cultures have to focus on the political efficacy to illustrate the political systems expression and empowerments. In most cases, political efficacy studies represent the citizens’ feelings on politics and their self-reinforcing attitudes towards political systems.

Comparatively, the political culture is studied based on political or institutional trust to determine the diffuse support the citizens give to political systems and the effectiveness of those political systems. Similarly, political culture is studied regarding political interest and knowledge to exploit the citizens’ knowledge about the political systems functions (Ross, 2000). For example, the political knowledge studies associated with political culture allow the citizens to participate in political systems and remain tolerance to political parties that are not of choice.

 Primarily, the political culture is studied based on the level of political participation conveying significant information about political demand and preferences of particular citizens. The political participation studies of political culture reflect the civic voluntarism of the citizens to participate in political activities either as an indication of their attitude or behavioral pattern of a particular political system (Chilton, 1988). From a civic culture approach, the politic culture is studied based on their development in contemporary political culture. For instance, the study of political events opens up an understanding of different political cultures based on their citizens’ post-material value preferences such as stable democratic systems.

How Political Culture is Measured

The political culture is measured by the level of supramembership, sharedness, inequality, behavioral, post-behavioral, comparability, non-reductionism, unrestricted applicability, and objective testability. The supramembership measure assesses an individual’s aggregated features are creating a distinctive feature of facts from lies. Similarly, the assessment of political cultures based on their mutual orientation and cultural uniqueness shared among the people (Inglehart and Welzel, 2003). For this reason, a measure of shared political culture reveals the distribution of cultural characteristics among a specific group of individuals. Similarly, political culture is measured according to political inequality or differences among a given group of people to determine the political weight or intensity behind a particular political orientation.

Comparatively, the conception of political culture is measured based on the public behavior that is an illustration of their social observable behavior. From a post-behavioral assessment, political culture can be measured by assessing the empirical regularities of behavior demonstrating the cultural meaning of that particular culture (Chilton, 1988). The evaluation of unrestricted applicability, non-reductionism, and comparability of the political cultures provide an understanding of the social organization and institutionalization of a different form of political systems (Inglehart and Welzel, 2003). For instance, evaluations of comparability of political cultures offer understanding and comparison of different cultures between various sources and within a single society.

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Political cultures constitute the beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral patterns of a given population to a specific political system. The political perceptions are measured according to the comparability, sharedness, supramembership, inequality, unrestricted applicability, post-behaviorism, and behaviorism conceptions. Similarly, the political cultures are studied based on the citizenship, political participation, political trust, political knowledge, and political development in contemporary political culture.

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  1. Chai, S.K., 1997. Rational choice and culture: Clashing perspectives or complementary modes of analysis?. Culture matters: Essays in honor of Aaron Wildavsky, pp.45-56.
  2. Chilton, S., 1988. Defining political culture. Western Political Quarterly, 41(3), pp.419-445.
  3. Inglehart, R. and Welzel, C., 2003. Political culture and democracy: Analyzing crosslevel linkages.
  4. Ross, M.H., 2000. Culture and identity in comparative political analysis. In Culture and politics (pp. 39-70). Palgrave Macmillan US.
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