Political Culture and Communism

  • Stephen Welch
Part of the Macmillan/St Antony’s Series book series


Following the initial surge of interest in political culture research in the early 1960s, the concept fell relatively out of favour, a fact which is partly explained by its ‘guilt by association’ with the theory of modernization, whose decline in popularity was precipitous. In the 1970s, however, the concept underwent something of a revival, this time in the political science subfield of communist studies. This subfield was always somewhat isolated from the mainstream of political science, and for this reason its use of political culture, although occasionally noticed, was seldom paid serious attention as a contribution to the theoretical development of the concept (Gabriel Almond, as we will see, is an exception to this statement). But, in the 1970s, in this out-of-the-way scholarly environment, the concept was indeed not only being preserved but also developed. In the hands of some authors, this development took political culture beyond the constraints of its behavioural use, whether comparative or sociological, and into interpretivism — an outcome that it is difficult to avoid at least partially attributing to the relative scarcity of attitude survey data in communist states, and the difficulty of conducting surveys there.1 That development will be pursued in Chapter 5. This chapter will instead concentrate on uses of political culture that continued to mine the comparative vein. As such, it will continue and enhance the critique of the comparative use that has been presented so far.


Political Culture Political Change Communist State Subjective Definition Political Advertising 
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  1. 1.
    In recent years this constraint has evaporated. For an example of conventional survey-based political culture research in the Russian case see Jeffrey W. Hahn, ‘Continuity and Change in Russian Political Culture’, British Journal of Political Science 21, 1991, 393–421. Hahn’s main conclusion is that Russian political culture is ‘not strikingly different from what is found in Western industrial countries’, and thus that it ‘would appear to be sufficiently hospitable to sustain democratic institutions’ (pp. 420f.).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Stephen Welch 1993

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