Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach

By Gabriel A. Almond; G. Bingham Powell Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Political Structure and Culture

THE THEMES OF POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND CULTURE run throughout this book, in our treatment of the conversion functions and capabilities, in our classification of political systems, and in our theory of political development. We need to discuss political structure and culture in terms of their most significant attributes, and to examine the processes by which they are perpetuated and changed.


POLITICAL STRUCTURE

Let us look at political structure first. There are at least two important respects in which the structures of political systems may differ: (1) the degree to which there is differentiation or specialization of political roles, structures, and subsystems; and (2) the autonomy or subordination of these roles, structures, or subsystems to each other. An illustration may help make these dimensions clear.

The political system of the Eskimo is among the simplest known to man. The Eskimos are scattered from the Bering Straits to Greenland in small communities, each numbering around one hundred inhabitants, most of the members of each community related by blood or marriage. There are only two specialized roles that are politically significant, those of the headman and the shaman, and these are both mixed roles. The

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