The SAGE Handbook of Comparative Politics presents in one volume an authoritative overview of the theoretical, methodological, and substantive elements of comparative political science. The 28 specially commissioned chapters, written by renowned comparative scholars, guide the reader through the central issues and debates, presenting a state-of-the-art guide to the past, present, and possible futures of the field.

Political Culture

Political culture

A stable and effective democratic government … depends upon the orientations that people have to the political process – upon the political culture.

(Almond and Verba, 1963: 498)


This chapter describes the place of the political culture paradigm in comparative politics. It outlines the paradigm's fundamental premises and assumptions and sketches how research in this field has developed. Special emphasis will be placed on where I see the greatest contribution of the political culture approach: understanding the societal fundaments of democracy and how these are transforming in the process of cultural change. In thinking about the driving forces behind democracy, the most basic assumptions of the political culture approach will be juxtaposed to those of the political economy approach. The chapter closes with some ...

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