A political culture can be defined as a framework of similar values, beliefs and attitudes shared by people in a certain nation or state. Such ideals and behaviors are normally related to the government and the politics of a country and they tend to develop with time to shape the views of that country’s citizens in regard to the world and their sense of what is right or wrong, just or unjust, possible and impossible (Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir 18). The concept of a political culture is properly explained using four major aspects of a government and politics.
These four aspects include; understanding the relationship between a government and the citizens, the government obligations, limits of the governmental authority and understanding people’s rights and responsibilities. The importance of a political culture is to establish a background on which the politics of a nation or a state unfolds. It also sets limits and boundaries which are to be obeyed by all actors involved in a political realm. Every nation has its own political culture.
For instance, most Americans believe that there is ultimate importance of individual efforts in achieving personal success and for this reason,they are generally opposed to generous welfare benefits (Clark and Schaffner 567). Ideology refers to the way in which cultures are structured to enable a government to exercise maximum control on its citizens with minimum conflicts. Ideology in simple terms refers to specific attitudes, ideas and beliefs which advocate for a systematic plan aimed at bringing change in the social, political and economic arenas of a country.
Examples of political ideologies include anarchism, socialism, statism, libertarianism, fascism, communism, conservatism and communitarianism (Cummings 56). Political ideology is different from political culture in many ways. For instance, traditionalists are not necessarily conservatives the same way liberals are not moralists. The culture of American politics is deeply rooted and it is associated with democracy, constitutionalism and capitalism. In this case, democracy in the U. S is less direct as it is marked by extreme fragmentation of power by the governing body.
Constitutionalism is concerned with law and attention to individual rights of its citizens while capitalism spells out the distinction between political and economic issues. The book Habits of the heart written by Robert Bellah et al describes the American culture in terms of its values, belief and expectations as well as strengths and weaknesses in relation to the manifestations to an individual and the community as a whole (pp. 143-145). Most of the values and beliefs which make up the American political culture originate from the Greco-Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Judeo-Christain, Native American, African as well as Asian cultures.
The core values of the American culture contained in the American creed include life, liberty, equality and pursuit for happiness. In addition, it includes individualism, unity and diversity of various cultures. Ideals in the American culture originate from past experiences such as those obtained from its former colonist (Britain) as well as material circumstances. According to Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir, the presence of a political ideology in the American politics is very important since its absence is likely to lead to radical pragmatism which is bound to trigger bad decisions and ethics in the policy making of the political culture.
The values and beliefs held in the American political culture assist the society in the war against racism and other ethnic differences. It also helps to shape the racial attitudes and facilitates democratic stability in the region. One of the most rampant characteristics of the American culture is consumerism. Consumerism is regarded as the new capitalism and originates from the dialectic of democracy and capitalism. The American societies are preoccupied by the ideals and values associated with consumerism as a result of numerous commodities and products fabricated under the television spectacles.
In the past few decades, consumerism has led to the transformation of the American citizens into ‘shoppers’ who are slowly taking away the state sovereignty from within (Wayne, Mackenzie and O’Brien 65). The trends of consumerism are impacting a big blow on the nation’s democracy affecting the judgment, liberty and overall citizenship. Consumerism leads to a disorder known as citizen schizophrenia which divides the common citizens into opposing groups denying them the legitimate access to what is civic or public. Essay 2: Political Culture of Texas.
The politics and the political culture of Texas has been a subject of debate for a long time now and there has been a base line describing it as a conservative type of culture(John 87). The political culture of Texas and its ideology has been well described using three major philosophical streams which include populism, social conservatism and classical liberalism. These three ideals are said to form the foundation of the Texas political culture on which permanent values, beliefs and attitudes are built and allowed to interact with other societal values in a complex way.
The ideals have led to what is referred to as a ‘low tax, low services’ political culture in the state. Although Texas government has undergone some immense growth in the last few decades, the ‘low taxes, low services’ culture still remains firm in the state (O’Connor and Sabato 256). In addition, Texas is known to have a tradition which serves business interests both small and large with a wide latitude in terms of their economic and political ventures.
The state also provides subsidies for a variety of its industries ranging from road construction, sports, real estate development, manufacturing industries among others. The state government political culture further promotes oil extraction in those regions which are environmentally sensitive and it has outsourced the services which are related to human health and well being. The government has also started the process of selling the subsoil water rights of land owned by the state to private companies and individuals thus encouraging regional and foreign investments in the state.
In an effort to shape its public policy, the state has a culture which permits extensive campaigns of the elected officials and it only imposes few restrictions regarding contacts between the executives in the bureaucracy and private entities. On the other hand, this political culture allows the government to tolerate a wide variety of disparities in the political access between individuals or ordinary citizens and people who are powerful either economically or politically in the state.
In comparison to the political culture on the American nation as a whole, Ginsberg, Lowi and Weir argue that the Texas political culture is similar to that of the nation as a whole in that it puts much emphasis on values of democracy, equality and liberty. They however add that these values differ in the way they are expressed and exercised in the political institutions of Texas as opposed to those at national level (pp. 304-349). In addition, the Texan political political culture as classified by Prof. Elazar is moralistic, individualistic and traditionalistic (Patterson 34).
In addition, the Texas political culture puts much emphasis on democracy and has been mainly dominated by one democratic party in the past although it is slowly evolving into a two party state. In conclusion it can be said that although the Texas political culture is relatively young as compared to the national political culture it is business focused as it shuns public expenditure on social programs while at the same time leaving room for huge contracts by providing subsidies on industries and permitting sale of state property to private business interests.
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