Politics as a Cultural Phenomenon

  • Liah Greenfeld
  • Eric Malczewski
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

Culture is the symbolic process through which human beings cognitively order reality and transmit their ways of life. Human beings are creatures of culture, having culture-specific orientations to reality (i.e., forms of consciousness) and culture-induced motivations that vary across history, types of societies, and individual experience: political problems — those problems related to the structure of authority relationships and distribution of power — are, therefore, necessarily cultural problems. The core phenomena in any problem of politics, indeed in any problem concerning humanity, are phenomena that have at their center human minds who animate them and who, in turn, are themselves symbolic or cultural processes occurring in the brain; thus, to understand and explain problems of politics one must understand and explain the relevant symbolic and mental processes, which is to understand and explain human actors' forms of consciousness and motivations. The problems that any social science must address are cultural problems in their various manifestations; the mentalist perspective, which the present paper represents, is the perspective which specifically focuses on them.


Liberal Democracy Political Implication Individualistic Nation Empirical Reality Collectivistic Nation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liah Greenfeld
    • 1
  • Eric Malczewski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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