📚

All Subjects

 > 

🗳️ 

AP Comp Gov

 > 

🙋‍♀️

Unit 3

3.2 Political Culture

8 min readoctober 31, 2020

kelly-cotton

Kelly Cotton


AP Comparative Government 🗳️

Bookmarked 1.3k • 71 resources
See Units

3.2: Political Culture

The focus of this topic has several components.
  1. Political Culture—The collective attitudes, values, and beliefs of the citizenry and the norms of behavior in the political system. It sets expectations about the exercise of power to establish a balance between social order and individual liberty. (definition courtesy of the AP Comparative Government and Politics CED)
  2. Political Socialization—The lifelong process of acquiring one’s beliefs, values, and orientations toward the political system. (definition courtesy of the AP Comparative Government CED)
We have defined political culture above, but let us break it down a bit further. Political culture is the collection of political beliefs that the government is based on. So for example, in the United States, we value individualism, and our government reflects this with the Constitution and amendments. An example of this is the 10th amendment that states any powers not delegated to the United States belong to the States and/or the people. If a government does not reflect the basic political values of a people, it will have difficulty remaining viable and keeping legitimacy.
What influences political culture? There are multiple factors including geography, religious traditions, and history that form the population’s values and beliefs, about the role of government, the rights of individuals, and the role of individuals in controlling government policymaking. Let’s explore some examples from our course countries.
Political Culture
CountryGeographyReligionHistoryInfluence on role of government/individuals/policy making examples
UKA variety of geographical features have impacted the development of political culture in the UK, here are a few examples: insularity or separation from the continent of Europe. Small Size-limited resources and geography influenced the UK to become an imperial power; no geographical barriers-easy communication and transportation across the UKPrior to the parliamentary system. the monarchy was selected by divine right.Noblesse oblige or the duty of the upper classes to take responsibility for the welfare of the lower class. Multi-nationalism England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all been individual nations in the past, but are united under one government today. Evolution over Revolution- the UK slowly transitioned over time from a monarchy into a parliamentary system through tradition and policy change rather than a written Constitution.Geography has influenced policy making in many ways, the EU is a perfect example. Even prior to Brexit the UK refused to use the Euro, but rather kept the pound. History of Noblesse obligeHas created a willingness for a welfare state including National Health Services. This also impacted with geography, the UK’s desire for imperialism.
MexicoNumerous impacts/influence. A few examples include:geographical barriers-numerous mountains and desserts separating regions.urban population-Mexico has urbanized rapidly and today about ¾ of all Mexicans live in urban centers.Until the 1920s the Catholic Church actively participated in politics. Today the political influence of the church has severely declined, however, most citizens are devout Catholics and this greatly influences political values and beliefsPatron-clientelism can be defined as a system of you scratch my back and I scratch yours between political elites and the constituents. An example would be a region supporting a candidate and voting for that candidate and then the candidate providing jobs, government resources, etc. for that region. Common History-Strong sense of national identification based on a common history, as well as religion, and language. Economic Dependency- A history of being dependent on Spain when a colonial holding, as well as being a Neighbor to the U.S.Geography because of the numerous mountains and desserts separating regions and therefore regionalism is a major characteristic of the political system. Religion greatly influences political values and beliefs. For instance in Mexico there are only 2 states that allow for abortion, which is strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church, and the other states. This example also illustrates regionalism, as the Federal government allows the states to decide this issue.Economic Dependency-PEMEX is a government-controlled oil company so the government is viewed as being active in the economy or controlling the economy.
NigeriaGeographical barriers a patchwork of a variety of geographies including plateaus and desserts has created distinctive regions.Religious History is one of conflict between Christianity and Islam and this has greatly influenced political culture.Patron-clientelism can be defined as a system of you scratch my back and I scratch yours between political elites and the constituents. An example would be a region supporting a candidate and voting for that candidate and then the candidate providing jobs, government resources, etc. for that region. Colonialism-Very greatly influenced by British colonialism. One example would be the state trying to control almost all aspects of life much like the British or subsequent military dictatorships in Nigeria.example of Religious influence on political culture include the fact that most Muslims generally support Sharia, or religious law as a valid part of political authority, but Christian populations disagree with this. Geographically we see regionalism in politics and this is also why there has been a great deal of patron-clientelism in regions. We can also see the influence of geography on religion, as most Northern states include Sharia law, not Southern states.State control can be seen in a very unique way in that when the citizens of Nigeria feel democracy is not working correctly, the citizens have often urged a military coup d’ etat to recorrect the situation this is a political culture developed as a direct result of the history of state control.
RussiaGeography setting has been an influence on political culture in several ways: Russia is the largest country in the world and encompasses many ethnicity and climates. Russia is geographically vulnerable to invasion.Eastern orthodoxy was linked to the state early in Russia’s history. When Russia became the Soviet Union the Communist Party forbade its citizens from practicing religionHistory of the Communist RegimeThe Communist regime instilled in the people an idea of appreciation for equality and similar living standards.NationalityCultural heterogeneity has always been a characteristic of Russian political culture, but Russians tend to categorize others based on their nationality and this can lead to descrimination and stereotypes.SkepticismThe Russian people have a healthy skepticism and disdain for leaders.example of Religious influence on political culture is that there was no separation of church and state in political culture prior to the Soviet Union and Communist control.Geographical example of influence on political culture would be the development that state is more important than the individual that was a result of the state protecting individuals from invasion.Communist regime’s focus on equality has influenced political culture in modern Russia in that economic or capitalist development is not a focus of political culture.
ChinaGeography has been extremely influential in keeping China isolated for centuries.The geography has limited population growth in the Western portion of the country. Geographic boundaries have created a split between north and south in China.Confucian ideas. Confucianism believes in hierarchy and respect for authority. Also promotes respect for elders.Patron-clientelism can be defined as a system of you scratch my back and I scratch yours between political elites and the constituents. Looks a bit different in China than in Mexico for instance. In China it is more about within the party and the relationships with the leaders of the past. In other words trying to attract the supports of leaders who are no longer alive or in power. Historical ErasChina has a long and rich history from the time of the Dynastys to Maoism with each influencing political culture.nationalism identity of Han Chinese- the predominant ehnic group in China goes back to ancient times. There is a great pride in Chinese culture and accomplishments. Western InfluenceHas both been a point of resistance and acceptance in China.Geography has impacted political culture in many ways but perhaps most importantly is the fact that geography and vast resources mean China is not economically or politically dependent on other nations, it can sustain itself from within.Historical eras have greatly influenced political culture. The first would be lack of protections polticially for those who are not Han Chinese, such as those of Tibetan ethnicity.The second is much like Russia the idea of collectivism from the time of Mao. Collectivism values the community over the individual and this has greatly influenced Chinese political culture.
IranGeography is comprised of vast desert which has unevenly distributed the population of Iran, with most living in northwestern cities.Religion and politics are one and the same throughout Iran’s history, no separation of church and state.Shiism and Sharia90% of all Iranians identify themselves as Shiite today.History of Authoritarianism. Whether under the Shahs or the Supreme Leader.Lack of European colonization. Unlike countries of Asia, Africa, and South America, Iran was never officially colonized by Europeans.NationalismIran has a history of nationalism and Iranian’s have a strong sense of nationalism over individualism.Religion is an extremely important part of political culture as Iran is a theocracy and the laws of the regime must not violate Sharia law.Authoritarianism has influenced political culture in that Iran’s leaders claimed to be all powerful, but people soon realized that they had little control over their daily lives and that local officials were far more important to their every day political life
Now that you have an overview of the influences on political culture in the course countries, it is time to discuss political socialization.
As a quick reminder, political socialization is the lifelong process of acquiring one’s beliefs, values, and orientations toward the political system. In other words, political socialization is the way that political culture is transmitted. Regardless of country or regime, family, schools, peers, religious institutions, media, and social environments carry out the process of socialization.
You do not need to know how each of the institutions functions in each country, but it is key that you understand the difference in how political socialization is carried out in authoritarian and democratic regimes.
Authoritarian regimes tend to apply more concerted governmental pressures to socialize their citizens around conforming beliefs than do democratic regimes. What this means is that the authoritarian regimes directly use their agents of political socialization to inform political culture. Let’s provide 2 examples:
  1. President Xi of China stated “Children should memorize the core socialist values by heart, have them melt in their hearts, and carve them in their brains.”
  2. Iran and the idea of vilayet-e-faqih, which is shared through political socialization, justify the rule of clergy over the state.
Opposite of Authoritarian Regimes, the more Democratic Regimes often use less pressure to socialize their citizens, if any. Democratic regimes have more freedoms for their citizens, generally, than Authoritarian ones, so let's examine freedom of religion.
In the United Kingdom, there used to be a pressure to join the Church of England from the Crown. However now, Freedom of Religions means that people can practice Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, or many different religions! This allows for less conforming pressures from the government towards the citizens.

Was this guide helpful?

Fiveable logo
Join Fiveable for free
Create a free account to bookmark content and compete in trivia
Hours Logo
Studying with Hours = the ultimate focus mode
Start a free study session
Browse Study Guides By Unit
📝Exam Skills
✏️Frequently Asked Questions
👑Unit 1: Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments
⚖️Unit 2: Political Institutions
🙋‍♀️Unit 3: Political Culture and Participation
💂‍♂️Unit 4: Party and Electoral Systems and Citizen Organizations
🏗Unit 5: Political and Economic Changes and Development
FREE AP comp gov Survival Pack + Cram Chart PDF
Sign up now for instant access to 2 amazing downloads to help you get a 5