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Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

17. Political Culture  

Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart

This chapter examines the role that the concept of political culture plays in comparative politics. In particular, it considers how the political culture field increases our understanding of the social roots of democracy and how these roots are transforming through cultural change. In analysing the inspirational forces of democracy, key propositions of the political culture approach are compared with those of the political economy approach. The chapter first provides an overview of cultural differences around the world, before tracing the historical roots of the political culture concept. It then tackles the question of citizens’ democratic maturity and describes the allegiance model of the democratic citizen. It also explores party–voter dealignment, the assertive model of the democratic citizen, and political culture in non-democracies. It concludes with an assessment of how trust, confidence, and social capital increase a society’s capacity for collective action.