Political culture refers to the set of values, beliefs, viewpoints and perspectives about the political system of a state.

It is a country's political system as internalized by the feelings, evaluations, and cognition of its citizens.

Political culture can also be defined as the values and political conduct of individuals or collective agents.

To quote Almond, "political culture is sets of attitudes, beliefs, notion, faith and understanding of the political system, political issues, political ideology and political characters"

Political culture can also mean the distinctive and patterned form that consists of how governmental, political and economic life should be carried out.    

It consists of the attitudes, beliefs and values that support the functioning of a political system.

Characteristics of political culture

1. It is a universal concept in that it is common to all societies

2. It is the system of empirical beliefs, values and expressive symbols

3. Every political system has its own political culture, which is dominated by diverse sub-groupings based on race, language, ethnicity, religion, and other factors.

4. Political culture is a subset of the general culture, hence it is an inherent element of the general culture.

5. It creates a framework for political change

6. Political culture is a comprehensive concept that touches every aspect of the political system.

7. It is unique to every state, nation and society

8.  Political culture is a dynamic idea since it is always changing due to the influx of foreigners, outbreaks of war, revolutions, and so forth.

Components of political culture

1. Evaluative orientation: This entails making decisions and evaluating the political system.

It involves making decisions about political objects and comparing them to those in other systems.

For example, while evaluating their political system, people try to know if the political system has achieved the objective that it had sought to achieve.

People, for example, seek to determine whether their political system has achieved the objectives it set out to achieve while evaluating it.

2. Cognitive orientation: This refers to people's level of understanding and awareness of political issues and objects.

It relates to how much and what kind of information people have about political issues and events.

It is the understanding and belief in the political system, as well as its objects, inputs, and outputs.

Cognitive orientation refers to the number of information people have regarding political objects such as pressure groups, state assemblies, executive bodies, and the judiciary

3. Affective orientation: This refers to people's level of commitment and interest in the political system.

It is the feeling of attachment, involvement and rejection that people have towards the political system.

It can also mean the feelings and emotions that people have about political objects.

For example, the support or opposition to the government constitutes effective orientation.

Types of political culture

1. Parochial culture: People in this type of political culture have little or no knowledge of political events beyond outside their immediate political environment.

People do not participate actively in their countries' politics due to a lack of understanding and low expectations from the government.

In societies with parochial political culture, people have little or no cognitive orientation toward the political system and do not expect the government to deliver anything positive.

This type of political culture is found in many traditional societies

2. Subject political culture: Here, people have a higher level of awareness. 

However, citizens' expectations of the government are low, and political participation is low.

People in this type of political culture have a cognitive orientation toward the output of the system (such as the output of government welfare programs, and tax legislation) but they are unable to influence the government because of low political participation.

Subject political culture is frequent in societies where the government expects individuals to obey its orders and follow them without question.

Examples of subject political culture can be found in communist countries such as Cuba, North Korea and China.

3. Participatory political culture: Here, citizens believe that they can influence the government by actively participating in the government.

Citizens have high expectations of the government and take an active role in politics.

Examples of countries with participatory political cultures can be found in Britain, the USA and other western countries with liberal democracy.

Determinants of political culture

1. Historical factors: History has a significant impact on political culture.

The French Revolution of 1989, for example, has had a significant impact on the political culture of France.

2. Geographical factors: The location of a state has a large bearing on its political culture.

Due to differences in geographical location, the political culture of the United States differs from that of European countries.

3. Socio-economic factors: The political culture of a political system is influenced by differences in social and economic elements.

4. Ethnic factors: Ethnic differences and conflicts in a country also affect the political culture of that country.

For example, if there had been no racial discrimination, Africa's political culture might have been different than it is now.

5. Religion: Political culture is shaped by religious homogeneity and diversity.

For example, religious differences between Muslims and Hindus led to the partition of India in 1947.

6. Ideology of the political system: Another factor that shapes political culture is the political ideology of the country.

For example, the ideology of the country might favour liberalism, conservatism, communism, totalitarianism or even democracy.

Importance of political culture

1. It enables us to comprehend how citizens observed the law: Political culture helps us understand how the laws of different countries are being observed by different individuals and groups

It helps us see the attitude of people towards the laws, constitution and political system of a country.

2. It helps us see connections: Political culture aids in the understanding of the relationship between social and economic factors on the one hand, and political development on the other.

3. Helps us understand political socialization: It helps us understand political socialization and the transmission of political culture from generation to generation.

4. It helps us understand certain phenomena: Political socialization helps us understand the reason that similar phenomena in different countries do not produce the same outcome.

Relevance of political culture in politics

1. It is helpful to know the causes of political decay

2. It has made political science more practical

3. Political culture has increased the scope of political science

4. It is the basis for distinguishing between political systems

5.  It contributes to the advancement of political change.

Criticism of political culture

1. It is not a new concept: Political culture is little more than a new label for old ideas

2. It is such an ambiguous concept: Political culture is a political concept because its basic concept isn't fully developed.

More so, it is difficult to test the different theories of political culture

3. It is not a good barometer to know the behaviour of a man: It's difficult to get a full picture of political culture because people's opinions and attitudes aren't always clear and can't be represented as a whole.

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The study of political culture is critical for every political system because it influences the beliefs, views, values and attitudes of the people towards the political system, political issues and political ideology.

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