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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: July 2012

8 - Political culture and survey research


This chapter begins the survey of empirical testing of theories of the creation and survival of democratic regimes. Chapter 9 surveys the impact of institutions, socioeconomic development and performance, and other factors, all of which emphasize forces external to individuals. In noncultural approaches, individuals are in a sense interchangeable: their political behavior is determined by their social class, their occupation, their role in an institutional context, and so forth. In cultural approaches, people are not interchangeable: they are different inside and therefore respond differently to the same external forces. Those who study political culture believe that we cannot discover useful theories without getting inside the heads of political actors.

Political culture is not a distinct methodological approach like case studies and comparative history, formal modeling, or quantitative testing. In fact, culture is studied using a variety of methods ranging from the qualitative extreme found in anthropological research to highly technical quantitative analysis using survey data and experiments. It has its own chapter here because the debate about approaches to the study of culture illustrates well the trade-offs that are the central theme of this book and because it is a large, complex, and fascinating literature in its own right.

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Democratization and Research Methods
  • Online ISBN: 9781139016179
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