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Absent the latter, however, revolutions typically result in the imposition of an authoritarian regime.

Approaches to Political Culture Theory

In the last decades reality has put civil wars in a central place on the agenda of comparatists. Research on the sources of modern political violence in the form of civil wars and guerrilla warfare has gone through several theoretical turns since its inception as a comparative endeavor almost fifty years ago. Modernization scholars explained rebellions as a function of economic inequality Russett ; Paige ; Midlarsky ; Muller , the impact of social and economic development, and the status and political claims of particular social groups Huntington ; Wolf ; Gurr That strand of enquiry was joined by a second line of research relating violent conflict to ethnic nationalism and the distribution of resources along ethnic lines Horowitz ; Connor In recent years almost all scholars have de-emphasized the role of economic factors, existing social grievances, or political ideologies in igniting violent conflicts, to stress instead the context of economic and political opportunities in which potential rebels may decide to engage in violent action.

Collier and Hoeffler link the emergence of rebellious activities to the availability of both finance—namely, abundant natural resources—and potential recruits—individuals with reduced prospects of material advancement through peaceful activities. In the volume we edited, Kalyvas insists as well that war-driven conditions are themselves likely to shape the outcomes of interest: Much changes as civil wars unfold, p.

The exploration of political conflict has also generated an important literature on contentious politics episodic public collective action and social movements sustained challenge to holders of power. Modernization and the spread of democracy spawned the invention of social movements. Yet at the same time, the time and location of social movements that is, their interaction with political institutions, society, and cultural practices determined the form in which they emerged Tarrow and Tilly ; Lichbach and deVries Modern democracies are representative democracies.

As such they are also party democracies: Political representatives generally coordinate in stable organizations for the purposes of contesting elections and governing. In a chapter reproduced in this volume, Herbert Kitschelt offers of a broad review of the questions that scholars ask about party systems and the way they answer them. Why do democracies feature parties in the first place, as almost all do?

Why do many parties compete in some democracies whereas in others competition is restricted to two major parties or two major ones and a minor one? Why do some parties compete with the currency of programs, others with valence issues, and still others with clientelism and patronage? Why are elections perennially close in some systems, lopsided in others?

Kitschelt reviews the measures that scholars find helpful in answering these questions—party-system fractionalization, the effective number of parties, electoral volatility, and cleavages. The problems afflicting party politics are regionally specific: Whereas scholars of advanced industrial systems worry, as Kitschelt notes, about the decay of party—voter linkages, scholars of new democracies worry about whether such linkages will ever take shape.

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As shown in Boix , the nature of parties and party systems can be traced to the underlying structures of preferences, which could be either uni- or multidimensional. These electoral institutions, as shown in Boix , were themselves the product of strategic action by parties. In a way, that chapter may be read as a response to two types of dominant approaches in the discipline: those institutionalist models that describe political outcomes as equilibria and that, somehow trapped in static applications of game theory, hardly reflect on the origins of the institutions that they claim constrain political actors; and those narratives that stress the contingency and path dependency of all political phenomena while refusing to impose any theoretical structure on them.

By contrast, we think it should be possible to build historical accounts in which we reveal 1 how political actors make strategic choices according to a general set of assumptions about their beliefs and interests and 2 how their choices in turn shape the choice set of future political actors.


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One of the central contentions of the comparative work done in the s was that partisan attachments and party systems had remained frozen since the advent of democracy in the West. Yet in the last forty years party—voter linkages have substantially thawed Wren and McElwain Economic growth, the decline of class differences, and the emergence of postmaterialist values lie in part behind this transformation. In the wake of changes in the electorate and its preferences, it took party bureaucracies some time to adjust. Taking advantage of the slow rate of adjustment of the older parties, new parties sprang up to lure away dissatisfied voters.

Yet party dealignment and electoral volatility have not diminished, even after new parties that should have stabilized the electoral market have entered these party systems. Therefore, to explain continued volatility, we must look beyond changes in the structure of voter preferences. Weakening party—voter ties must be put in the context of a shift in the educational level of the population and new technologies radios and TV.

As parties became less important as informational shortcuts, politics has grown more candidate centered and party elites have been able to pursue electoral campaigns without relying on the old party machinery. In the last two decades, democracy has become the dominant system of government across the world, both as a normative ideal and as a fact. But not all nominal democracies generate accountable, clean governments. In a chapter reproduced in this volume, Susan Stokes addresses one of the possible causes of malfunctioning democracies by looking at the practices, causes, and consequences of clientelism.

Culture and Politics: A Comparative Approach by Jan-Erik Lane

Shaped by a sociological approach, researchers at that time explained clientelism as a practice underpinned by a set p. Yet, as Stokes claims, clientelism must rather be seen as a game in which patrons and clients behave strategically and in which they understand that, given certain external conditions such as a certain level of development and the organizational conditions that allow for the effective monitoring of the other side , they are better off sustaining a pattern of exchange over the long run.

Such a theoretical account then allows us to make predictions, which are beginning to be tested empirically, about the institutions underpinning clientelistic practices, the electoral strategies pursued by patrons, and the potential economic and political effects of clientelism: whether it depresses economic development and political competition. Political activism has also spawned a large body of research. In her chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics , Pippa Norris reviews the social and psychological model of participation developed by Verba and Nie, as well as the critiques generated from a rational choice perspective.

She then examines how key developments in the research community and the political world have affected the ways in which we evaluate this subfield. She notes a growing interest in the role of institutions in shaping participation in general and turnout in particular. Echoing Wren and McElwain, she draws our attention to changes in party membership, which was widespread and hence instrumental in many advanced democracies but has progressively shrunk, with consequences that are still widely debated among scholars.

The constructs of trust and social capital, pioneered by Coleman and Putnam, are also relevant to our expectations about levels of participation. All of these, she notes, have expanded and in a way marginalized the more institutionalized, party- and union-based mechanisms of participation that dominated in the past.

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In the magisterial five-volume Handbook of Political Science published thirty years ago by Greenstein and Polsby, the term accountability appears not once. The term representation appears sporadically and, outside of the volume on political theory, only a handful of times.

Thirty years later, accountability has emerged as an organizing concept in comparative politics, with representation not far behind. If everyone in a society had the same preferences, the problem would not be a problem at all.


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But never is this the case. And scholarship on preference aggregation must come to grips with social choice theory, which should lead us to doubt that citizens in any setting in which politics is multidimensional can p. The dominant strains of research, some of which come to grips with the social choice challenge and others of which ignore it, include examinations of the congruence between preferences and outcomes of various sorts Powell Another sort of congruence study examines the coherence of issue positions among co-partisans, both political elites and citizens who identify with parties, and tends to find a good deal more coherence among the former than among the latter.

Yet another deals with the congruence between electoral platforms and campaign promises, and government policy. Neoinstitutional scholars have focused their attention on electoral rules, executives, legislatures, federalism and, more recently, the judiciary. The existing work on executives and legislatures has centered on two broad topics. First, what is the effect of a constitutional structure based on the separation of powers?


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  5. Second, what determines the patterns of coalition-making in governments? In the volume we edited, Samuels reviews what we know about the impact of the separation of powers on accountability. The conventional view in the United States is that a separation of powers is so central to democratic accountability that this separation is nearly definitional of democracy.

    Samuels evaluates this proposition empirically.

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    His own research and that of other authors which he reviews address questions of accountability and representation, as well as the effects of a separation of powers on the policy process and on regime stability. Among his central findings is that presidentialism has several deleterious effects; a separation of executive from legislative powers increases the chances for policy deadlock and for the breakdown of democracy. In turn, Strom and Nyblade critically assess the literature on coalition-making, particularly regarding the formation of governments in parliamentary democracies.

    What is POLITICAL CULTURE? What does POLITICAL CULTURE mean? POLITICAL CULTURE meaning & explanation

    Although influential theoretically, this approach proved to be rather unsatisfactory empirically. As discussed by Pablo Beramendi in a thought-provoking chapter, we know far less than we should about federalism. Our theories on the origins of federalism are still sketchy—security threats, the level of heterogeneity, and the evolution of the world economy in terms of its level of integration shape the extent of decentralization in a critical manner.

    The study of the consequences of federalism is slightly more advanced. The relationship between democracy and federalism seems to be conditional, as far as we know, on the particular internal structure of federalism. The effects on the economy of having a federal structure, in turn, depend on how the federal institutions allocate power and responsibilities between the center and regional governments. The study of the judiciary was traditionally reserved to legal scholars.

    Assessing judicial independence, as these authors acknowledge, is not always straightforward.

    Culture and Politics: A Comparative Approach / Edition 2

    They advocate two measures: the frequency with which courts reverse governments, and the frequency with which they reverse governments that nationalize parts of the economy or attempt to do so. The authors note that a drawback of either approach is that courts, which seek among other objectives not to have their decisions reversed, may rule against governments only when they anticipate not being reversed, in which case these measures would tend to overestimate their independence.

    Hence, whereas rulings against governments probably indicate independence, rulings in their favor are less certain indications of dependence see Helmke ; It was in the s, that is, about two decades after comparative politics started to develop causal, testable theories, that political scientists ventured in a systematic way p. Part of that growing interest in political economics started with the analysis by political sociologists of voting and, particularly, of economic voting.

    Factors that Duch suggests will influence economic voting include party-system size, the size of government, coalition governments, trade openness, and the relative strength of governing and opposition parties in the legislature. At the same time that a few scholars studied how voters react to economic conditions, other researchers began exploring how politicians affect the economy and therefore voting decisions.

    After Nordhaus published a seminal paper in on electoral business cycles, the scholarly literature has evolved in three complementary directions. A first set of studies has examined the impact of electoral cycles on the economy. Scholars now tend to agree that the presence of politically induced economic cycles is rather irregular.

    But, of course, this opens up an important question particularly from the point of view of democratic representation : Why should voters accept policy manipulation and leave governments unpunished? In our volume, James Alt and Shanna Rose argue that political business cycles must be understood as a particular instance of the broader phenomenon of political accountability in democratic regimes.