Political Culture Daniel J. Elazar

“the particular pattern of orientation to
political action in which each political
system is embedded.”
A “historical source of differences in
habits, perspectives, and attitudes that
influence political life in the various
(1) the set of perceptions of what politics is and
what can be expected from government, held
by both the general public and the politicians;
(2) the kinds of people who become active in
government and politics, as holders of elective
offices, members of the bureaucracy, and active
political workers;
(3) the actual way in which the art of
government is practiced…
…the kind of civic behavior dictated by
conscience and internalized ethical
standards…the character of law-abidingness
displayed by citizens and officials; and…the
positive actions of government.
Democratic order as marketplace
 Government exists strictly for utilitarian reasons
 Handle functions demanded by those it serves
 Government has no concern with questions of “the
good society”
 Limited community intervention into private
 Politics viewed as a business
Commonwealth conception as basis for democratic
Politics as search for the “good society” for the
betterment of the commonwealth, government as
positive instrument to promote general welfare
Politics seen as a public activity centered on the
public good, devoted to advancement of public
Community involvement in private affairs when
necessary for public good
High levels of political participation
Little corruption in government
Ambivalent attitude toward marketplace
Paternalistic and elitist conception of commonwealth
Hierarchical society as natural order, those at the top take
a special and dominant role in government
Government actively intervenes in community to
preserve the existing social order
Real political power held by small, self-perpetuating
group drawn from established elite (family/social
Those who don’t have a role to play aren’t expected to be
even minimally active
Those active in politics benefit personally
Loose one-party systems if parties exist at all
Leaders play conservative and custodial roles
Moralistic states: predominantly Midwest and
New England
Moralistic/Individualistic: West and Midwest
Individualistic: Far West, Midwest, MidAtlantic
Individualistic/Moralistic: Far West, New
Traditionalistic: South
Traditionalistic/Moralistic: Includes NC
Traditionalistic/Individualistic: South Central

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