Different Kinds of Political Culture

Almond and Verba’s argument is based on a distinction between three different kinds of political culture, parochial, subject, and participant. Political culture is the aspirations and beliefs of most citizens of the country towards political systems. The notion of political culture does not refer to attitudes toward specific actors, such as a president or prime minister, but rather denotes how people view the political system as a whole and their belief in its legitimacy.


It was only in the 1960s that the concept of Political Culture became a partly modern political analysis. This term has been popularized by American political thinkers like Ulam, Beer, and Almond and it is now being used frequently to compare the different political systems. This concept has now enabled the different political scientists to distinguish one system from the other not only in terms of its structure but also the political culture in which it grows. It is a political culture that explains satisfactorily the phenomenon of why the parliamentary democracy has succeeded so well in Great Britain but not succeeded in most of the countries of Africa and Asia.

Political Culture defined and explained:-

In many countries of Asia and Africa, a democratic system was introduced but in some countries, it succeeded while in other countries it did not succeed due to different reasons. For example on 15th August 1947, there was the partition of India, and Pakistan was born. Both India and Pakistan adopted the same political system i.e. democracy but while democracy is flourishing in India, there has been no democratic system in Pakistan virtually from 1959 when Ayub Khan came into power.

After the exit of Ayub Khan in 1969, Yahya Khan became the dictator of Pakistan. He was too defeated in the IndoPak war of 1971 and had to hand over power to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who carried on once rigged elections. Zia-ul-Haq staged a military coup against him on July 5, 1977. Later on, he was killed in an airplane crash, Now Mrs. Benazir Bhutto is in power in many countries of Asia and Africa, the plant of democracy has not been able to grow because of different political cultures. In 1998 Mr. Shant became the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

According to Almond and Powell:

Political culture consists of attitudes, beliefs, values and skills which ate current in an entire population, as well as those special propensities and patterns which may be found within separate parts of that population

In other words, political culture consists of attitudes, beliefs, values, and skills which ate current in an entire population, as well as those special possibilities and attempts which may be found within separate parts of that population.

Political culture is Composed of attitudes and orientations which people in a given society develop towards objects within their political system. These orientations may have three distinct dimensions which are cognitive, effective, and evaluative. The cognitive orientations imply the knowledge people have about objects within their political system, the effective orientation refers to their feelings about them feelings either of attachment and involvement or of rejection-and the evaluative orientations indicate their judgment on them involving the use of values. information and feelings.

The objects towards which these orientations are directed are the following :

First is the political system as a whole people have knowledge of feelings about and judgments on the political system and it is these orientations that condition the development of national identity.

Another object of the cognitive, effective, and evaluative orientations is the input process of the political system through which the demands made by society flow to the political system for their conversion into authoritative policies by means of the activities of political parties, pressure groups, and media of communication.

The third object is the output process that involves the work of bureaucracy, courts, and other political institutions concerned with applying and enforcing authoritative decisions.

Fourthly, an individual’s orientation is also directed towards his own self. As he plays a role in the political system, he certainly has knowledge of, attachment to, and also his own evaluation of this role.

Political Culture refers not to what is happening in the world of politics but to what people believe about these happenings. It means that collective beliefs in society are not accidental but rather logical and interrelated. Thus despite differences in political orientation, a distinct political culture exists in every society.

Factors Which Mould Political Culture:-

Politics is such an activity that is carried on in a human environment and thus the product of the historical background, social set-up, physical location, and climate, etc, are such characteristics that shall affect the political activity that takes place in a given political unit. The economic conditions of a particular community also have their bearings on its politics. A particular economy will create particular possibilities.

A community living in a highly industrialized economy for example. will develop social relations which will, in its turn, provide a social setting for political activity. The society which comprises the individuals in which the political system is set may be categorical according to race, wealth, etc. The individual members of the society will have certain values, beliefs, propensities, and emotional attitudes. These propensities and attitudes with a multiple of others, make up the culture of the community of which political attitudes are a part. Such Social behavior has its basis in the culture of a society and similarly, political behavior has its basis in the political culture.

Political Culture, according to Lucian Pye,

Is shaped by the general historical experiences of a country as also by the private and personal experiences of the individuals. It is because the individuals first became the members of society and then of the polity. Political culture is gradually built on the cumulative Orientations of the people towards their political processes. Each generation inherits attitudes and beliefs towards politics partly from the earlier generation and Partly it is formulated as a reaction to the on-going politics. In other words, political culture, is a product of the learning process and the actual experiences of the People.

Again, in the words of Pye, political culture can be found only in man’s minds, in the pattern of action, feeling, and reflection which they have internalized and wade part of their very existence.

It is true that we cannot deny the importance of political events such as elections, party-competition during the elections role of pressure-groups, group-behavior, changing social basis of the elite governmental performance, stability of Government and working of the political institutions.

Consequently, the political culture studies the interaction between beliefs the political events, and governmental structure. If the Constitution of a country is not according to the political culture of a country, it has to be changed. For example, the Weimer Constitution of Germany failed because it did not coincide with the political culture of that country. Political culture not only affects the Constitution but also political ideologies.

For example, Fascism introduced in Germany and Spain was quite different from Italy. Even communism as practiced in U.S.S.R. differs from Yugoslavia and China. According to Almond, Every political system is embedded in a particular pattern of orientation to political action.

For the individual. political culture provides controlling guidelines for an effective political community it gives a systematic structure of values and rational considerations. Political, culture is the set of attitudes, beliefs, and sentiments that give order and that provide the underlying assumptions and rules that govern behavior in the political system.

It encompasses both the political ideals and the operating norms of a polity. Political culture is thus the manifestation in the aggregate form of the psychological and subjective dimension of politics. In brief, political culture is to the political system what culture is to the social system.

In essence, thus, Political culture, as Sidney Verba points out:

Consists of the system of empirical beliefs, expressive symbols and values which define the situation in which political action takes place.

So it covers both the political ideals and operating norms of a polity.

Objects of Political Culture:-

It cannot be denied that political culture touches levels of human awareness and sensitivity. The objects of political orientation include the political system as a whole, particular political roles, and specific public policies and issues. Political culture can thus be examined with reference to the political system as a whole, its output objects, its output objects and self as an object. Orientation to the political system as a whole will mean one’s understanding of the governmental system, it’s working, and also the historical development of the various political institutions. Orientation to Input objects means the study of those institutions and structures which convey the demands and supports of the people to the decision-makers.

These institutions include the government, political parties, party elites, and pressure groups. Orientation to output objects means the attitudes towards and understanding of the rule-making, rule-application, and rule adjudication of the structure of the political system. It involves in a general sense Bureaucracy. Orientation to self includes one’s knowledge of rights and duties tact and strategies and resources to influence the elite.

Relation Between – Political System and Political Culture:-

The system theorists point out that one political system is distinguished from another not only by its structure but also by the political culture in which the structures are embedded. That the working of the political system is very much affected by the political culture in which it functions can be illustrated by the fact that some developing countries like India, Ceylon, Burma, Pakistan, etc. adopted certain political institutions like democracy, party-system and judicial system from the developed countries like England, France, and the U.S.A. but they soon discovered that these institutions did not function in the same way as they worked in those countries from where they had been taken.

The question arises why the political stem of the developing countries works differently from the developed countries, walk of life, we have to study the political culture of each country, Now we realize that the political culture of one country differs from other countries, Every political system writes Almond, embedded in a particular pattern of orientation to political actions. Political Culture, according to Sidney Verba, consists of the system of imperial expressive symbols and values which define the situation in which political action takes place.

It should be noted that the political culture of a country is very close to its general culture. Just as the culture of one country differs from the culture of another country, so the political culture of a country also differs from another country. The political sphere is also provided with political structures and meanings in the same manner a Consistency and integration is provided to the social life by the general culture. It relates to rational considerations, emotions, and ethical values. Just like culture, it is hard to define political culture but still, political scientists have the to define it.

In the words of Pye.

Political culture can be found only in men’s minds, in the pattern of action, felling and reflection which they have interlined and made part of their very existence.

Every generation inherits attitudes and beliefs towards politics, partly from the earlier generation and partly it is formulated as a reaction to the on-going politics.

Consequently, political culture is a product of the learning process. General elections, party politics, working of pressure groups, changing social basis of the elites, governmental performance influence the political culture. Group behavior also largely determines the political culture of a country. In simpler words, political culture studies the interaction between beliefs, events, and structure.

Thus political culture makes a critical evaluation of the standards of political conduct. The way in which the political activities of a particular country are organized besides public statements, myths and legends, speeches, and warnings are the norms for the foundation of a political culture of that country.

The study of political culture is also a study of political dynamics. The process of interaction between the political system and the political actors is one of the techniques to understand the change in political culture that happens through time. The social processes influence the individual at all stages of life.

These individuals in return interact with the political system and introducing changes in the character of the political system, whereas the changing character of the political system influences the channels of political socialization, on the one side and the individual behavior on the other side. These things collectively form political culture can be treated as a Valuable method for the study of the behavior of the individual in the context of the political system in which he is operating.

Different Kinds of Political Culture:-

It has also been observed that the political culture of one country fundamentally differs from other countries. There is no country in the world today which too boasts of single uniform political culture, Almond and Verba have listed three ideal types of political culture. They are

1. Parochial

Where the people have no and understanding of the national political system, do not possess any tendency to participate in the input processes, and have no consciousness of the output processes. such a type of political culture is called parochial political culture. African tribes and Eskimos fall in this category. Such a type of people has no role to play in the political culture.

2. Subject:

This type of political culture is found in the subject countries and monarchies. There the people are aware of the government system whether they like it or not. They also know the role of the government regarding law-making. enforcement of laws and tax collection etc. In this type of culture, people are not taught to participate in the input functions, Sometimes they are not allowed to do so, so the people find it difficult how to influence the working of the political system.

3. Participant

In this type of political culture, people are quite keen to participate in the political system and influence its work. They are always busy making reasonable demands on the political system and are involved in the making of decisions. They develop a particular attitude towards the political system. Political parties and pressure groups (interest groups) fall in this category and decide for themselves what role they can play.

4. Political Sub-culture:

It is not necessary that all the groups inhabiting a particular country may be equally advanced, some may be more advanced, while others may be less advanced. Therefore those groups who are more advanced, develop a participatory culture while others may still retain subject or parochial culture. This is due to the reason that in many countries of the world there are different ethnic groups. Differences in political culture among them develop due to the difference in education, political training, economic and social background.

Therefore the backward develop a political sub-culture of their own. Sub-culture also develops when the political system is unable to advance rapidly according to the fast-changing needs of society. Sometimes new political structure may be introduced by the elite but certain people may not be able to cope with it.

In this way, different sections of society may have different political orientations. So when a particular section of the society is clearly distinguishable from others in the same political system, then we find that it has developed a distinct – political sub-culture of its own. France is a classic example of such sub-cultures.

Generally, the various groups do not make the same effective contribution in a political system but in times of grave national crisis, they do so. In developing countries also political sub-cultures develop because of the differences in language, religion, class, and caste. In India also, we find such sub-cultures among the tribal areas.

Moreover, there is always a fundamental difference between the political culture of the rulers (political leaders and bureaucrats) and the ruled. The ruled generally vote for a particular party at the time of the general election. After the formation of a government, they do not exercise any control over it. They only read something about the working of the government in the newspapers. The rulers develop a particular attitude or superiority complex towards the governed. In this way, we find the difference between the elite and mass political culture. Where the rulers, whatever they pretend, belong to elite culture; the ruled belong to mass culture, In this way, Myron Weiner has analyzed Indian political culture with the help of a distinction between mass and elite political culture.

Contribution of Political Culture:-

Political Culture is an important method to judge the development and modernization of a country. It has made a significant contribution to Political Science.

Prof. S.P. Verma has highlighted the five main contributions of this approach.

First, it has made Political Science a more complete social science.

Secondly, it has focused our attention on the study of the political community of society as distinct from the individual and thus on the total political system

Thirdly, it has encouraged political scientists to take up the study of social and cultural factors which are responsible for giving a political culture of a country its broad shape.

Fourthly, it has helped us in combining the study of the national factors which shape the actions of the individuals to a large extent.

Lastly, it is the political culture approach which helped us to understand why different political societies inevitably moved in different directions of political development, or maybe political development, or maybe found, themselves suffering from severe constraints, Socioeconomic as well as political, which free them to move towards political decay.


Almond and Powell have realized that the approach of political culture to the political system is inadequate. Critics have pointed out that the following difficulties come in the wake of this study.

  1. The concept is merely a new label for an old idea.
  2. Its definition is vague. Various political writers have given it a meaning of their own. So, this concept conveys conflicting ideas.
  3. It is difficult to distinguish those elements which contribute to political culture from the elements which are generally found in the political culture.
  4. It is not clear whether political institutions and practices are parts of the political culture or are its products.


Therefore Almond and Powell confirm that a careful analysis of political culture still provides no sure guide, perhaps at best a probabilistic one, for the prediction of individual behavior in a given case. But at the same time, it cannot be denied that the concept of political culture is an attempt to gain the signal and comprehensiveness which the other concepts lack.