Political Mobilization: A Sociological Analysis of Methods and Concepts

By J. P. Nettl | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE

The Quality of Political Culture:
a Pattern Variable

SUMMARY

In this chapter an attempt will be made to analyse political culture in terms of a pattern variable. First we must be clear about the relative status of the political subsystem within society as a whole, and to recognize that this is not constant but shifting—both through time and as between different societies. This problem can be treated as part of a phase model affecting all four subsystems. For present purposes the discussion is confined to the relationship between the political subsystem and its supra-system-society. Two variables are adumbrated-the density or saliency of the subsystem (a purely analytical concept), and its range (the coefficient of political system and polity). The culture connotations of these concepts are discussed.

Next the central culture pattern variable elitist-constitutional is introduced. This 'grosses up' the two variables of density and range. In addition it subsumes a fundamental orientation towards politics— the disposition to emphasize manifest or latent structures, to assign value and primacy to institutions or to elites. Examples of such different cultures are discussed. Since elites are a crucial component of the variable, some attempt is made to arrive at a clear and concise definition of the concept. Concepts closely related to elite are then discussed: class, nation, ideology. The relevance of the two patterns to political mobilization is examined. In an appendix at the end of the chapter a random example is appended of how the suggested pattern variable might be superimposed on a particular piece of empirical research.

Perception of a differentiated political system plays an important part in any rise of the level of political culture, just as structural differentiation is a crucial feature of development itself. We by-passed

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