A Culturalist Theory of Political Change Author(s): Harry Eckstein Source: The American Political Science Review, Vol. 82, No.

3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 789-804 Published by: American Political Science Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1962491 Accessed: 30/11/2009 06:05
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though only changes of parand assumptions ticularkinds. whether "normal"or involving abrupt discontinuity.attitudes. which I consider more precisethan that of others. Applications of the apin a proach are covered comprehensively retrospective on the influence of their work by Almond and Verba (1979). My own use of the concept of culture. Putnam1973. has arguedthat political culturalistshave been very offhand in dealing with change-that they have tended to improvise far too much in order to accommodatepoliticalchangesinto theirframe- AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW VOL. 3 SEPTEMBER1988 . The seminal works are Almond and Coleman's (1960) and Almond and Verba's (1963).for example. MerkI1970. But continuity can be reconciledwith changes. so to speak. Bill 1973. 82 NO. and Pye and Verba1965).Dawson and Prewitt and Hardgrave 1969.. occurin numerousworks (e. and has been much describedabstractly and much applied to concretecases. Criticisms of politicaltheoriescertainlyhave culturalist emphasized the occurrence of certain changes in political structures.g. Explicationsof it as a contenderfor paradigmatic status in political science.A CULTURALIST THEORYOF CHANGE POLITICAL HARRY ECKSTEIN Universityof California Irvine 1rhe most tellingcriticismof political culturetheory is that with politicalchange. is discussedin the Appendix.Rogowski (1974). Political culture theory may plausibly be considered one of two still viable to politicaltheoryand generalapproaches explanationproposed since the early fifties to replacethe long-dominantformal- legalism of the field-the other being political rational choice theory. determiningwhich of the two modes of theorizingand explaining-the "culturalist" or the "rationalist"-is likely to give the better results may be the single most important item now on the agenda of political science (Eckstein1979a). The political culture approach to building positive political theoriesand to political explanation has been with us since about 1960. and behavior and culturalistaccounts of their occurrencein order to impugn the approach. Whetheror not it is advisable to take the culturalist road to theory depends above all on the ability to produce a cogent culturalisttheory of politicalchange: a theory consistentwith the assumptions (postulates) of the approach and confirmed by experience. Thenatureof politicalchangesconsistentwith culturalist (1) about here are by hypotheses specified of continuity with the culturalistexpectation the effects of changes in social context. Indeed. and (2) the effects of attemptedrevolutionarytransformation. Thereis a good reasonfor this: the inadequately very coped it has assumptionsof the political culture approach in fact lead to the expectationof continuity.

His argumentis directedat culturalist theory in general. to penetratereliably and with validity into the subjective. he writes. does the postulate assert? to action"aregeneraldis"Orientations positions of actors to act in certainways in sets of situations." or follows from that postulate. but he singles out Almond's work with Powell (1966) as especially indicative of the sins that culturalistscommit.It is quitepossible to deduce from these assumptionsa logically cogent account of how political change. difficulties accountingfor change in general and for certainkinds of changeespecially seem to me inherentin the assumptionson which the political culture approach is based. however.We may call them. The touchstone of culturalisttheory is the postulateof orientedaction: actorsdo but not respond directly to "situations" respond to them through mediating All else either elaborates "orientations. help us to find orientations. as did Bentley. The criticalmethodologicaltask of studies based on such models is. or mind-stuff. What exactly. The idea of to action"follows a particu"orientations lar psychological stimulus-response bemodel: not the simple "single-stage" havioristmodel in which nothing "subjective"intervenesbetweenthe experienceof situationsand responsesto it (actions)but models in which responses "mediational" to stimuli (actions in situations)are considered results both of the experienceof objectivesituationsand actors'subjective processing of experience.why culturalistshave in fact tended to waffle in explaining political change)is simple: the postulates of the approachall lead to the expectation of politicalcontinuity.hier- The Postulates of Culturalist Theories and The Expectation of Continuity The basic reason why a culturalistaccount of changeis intrinsicallydifficultto construct(hence.American Political Science Review Vol. This argument-and others to similar effect-strikes me as cogent criticism of how culturalistshave in fact dealt with political changes. the formergeneral. 82 work. anomic. Pye (Pye and Verba 1965) has distinguishedfour sets of such "themes"that he considers useful for making cultural comparisons on the societal level: trust-distrust. These its "axiomatic" assumptionsunfortunatelyhave been left implicitin culturalistwritings. sary to make them explicit if one is compellingly to specify what experiencesare in a culturalistworld and what "normal" conditionsculturalisttheory can and cannot accommodate. If actors do not have them. soul-stuff. Attitudes themselves derive from and expressorientations. through their patterning. occurs. of course. If orientations frequently occur in collectivities they may be called "culturethemes. does not mean impossible."as by Mead and Metraux (1954). then. Suchgeneraldispositions pattern actions. "Orientations" do the processing.actions will be erratic: patternless. and every kind of such change. so to speak. Difficult. continuity the "normal" The Postulatesof Culturalism To see why this is so we mustfirstmake explicit the fundamental assumptions from which culturalisttheory proceeds basis. or if orientations are ill formedor inconsistent. They have done so. to the point that they no longer have a convincing way to treat political change at all. It is neces790 . Orientations are not "attitudes":the latter are specific. Furthermore. nor implausible. My purpose here is to provide such an account. as remedy for the "ad hocery"Rogowski rightly criticizes.they makepolitical state. dispositions.though attitudes may.

affective. Life would hardly be bearable. although learning is regarded as continuous throughoutlife (which is not likely to be questioned)early learning all priorlearning-is regardedas a sort of filterfor laterlearning:earlylearningconditions later learningand is harderto undo. only the explanation of deviantcases (likefalse class consciousness) would requirethe use of mediating variables. The process can be direct. harmony."The repertoireof cognitions. by "teachers" who are culturallyvariableactors. if actions are merely "superstructural. reject the notion of political socialization. The significanceof this postulatelies particularly in this: if the processing of experiencesinto actions were uniform-if it were fixed at the biological level or if it cost-benefit always involved "rationalist" calculation-then mediating mind-stuff could simply be left out of theory. taking into ac- . a tendency is assumed toward making the bits and pieces of cognitive. and schemesof evaluationthat process experience into action must be imparted by the socialized carriers of culture. even possible. they must be learned. decode experience(give it meaning). The assumption of oriented actions would be vacuous without the additionof a second postulate. since we already know the universalcovering law needed to complete an explanandum. structures)to explain actions. so to speak. First. And if orientations are not simply subjective reflections of varying objective situations. The postulate of cumulative learning provides the culturalist account of how two fundamental needs of actors in societies are satisfied:the need for economy of action and the need for predictability in interaction. parochial-national identifications.affectiveelementsthat invest cognitionwith feelingsthat "move"actors to act. and evaluative elementsthat provide goals towardwhich actorsaremoved to act (Pye and Verba 1965). if one had to think out every action. In Hempel'sterms. But this does not alter the logic of the argument that without orientational variability we remain in a strictly behaviorist world. This means two things. In regard to that matter. What dividesculturalistand rationalisttheorists here involves the issue of late-in-life learning. In that case. Thus. then somethingthat is variable must form them." we manifestly need only to know situations to explain actions. then the variable conditions through which they are formed must themselvesbe cultural. critical for cross-cultural analysis. a postulateof culturalsocialization must hold if the first and second assumptions hold: orientations are learned through the agency of external "socializers. Putnam (1973) considersthe theme of conflict or its counterpart. feelings.No doubt ingenuity is required in relating conditionsto actions via uniformorientations: the rationalchoice theorieswe have providemore than enough cases in point.It is conventional to regard orientations as having three components: cognitive elements that. That would be silly. consonant) whole.PoliticalChange archy-equality.or resocialization. we would only need to know "initial conditions" (situations. Similarly. and evaluativelearning form a coherent (consistent. "Rationalist" theorists do not. which we might call the postulate of orientationalvariability: orientations vary and are not meresubjective reflections of objective conditions. If orientationsare not inherentin actors 791 but variable. culturalists proceedfrom a postulateof "cumulative" socialization. Orientations are not acquired in some automatic way. Second. of course. or it can occur indirectly simply through the experience of variable cultures. These "themes" exemplifyhow "orientations" are general dispositions that pattern sets of actions and sets of specificattitudes. liberty-coercion.

Theseconditions have effectssimilar to a lackof orientations to actions andof socially shared orientations incoheraltogether.Thefixityrequired for predictability in social life follows fromthe very fact thatrational choiceis considered a fixeddisposition. they do not vary because objectivesocial situations or structuresvary but because of culturally determinedlearning. from social segment to social segment. ent behavior by individuals andin social anomie in the former. The expectationof continuityin aggregate (and individual)orientationsfollows most plainly from the assumption that orientations arenot superstructural reflections of objective structures. generational continuitymust occur. This applies as much to culturaldivisions in a society as to more general culture types and themes-if any exist in the first place. Both economyof action and predictto the arediminished abilityin interaction extentthatindividual orientations areinconsistentand that early learningmay readily be undone. "cultural men. one can anticipate the actionsof others andadjust one'sown behavior to the anSocialpredictability ticipation. Social life. what is true of one generation should continue substantially to be true in the next. the socializersbeing formed.Thus. experiencewith authorityoccurs first in the family.American Political Science Review Vol.and evaluative pre792 dispositions. Orientational schemata thus save virtually all decision costs.it should be evident why political culturetheorists should have difficultiesin accountingfor political change. The Expectationof Continuity Whenthe postulatesof the politicalculture approachare made explicit. sciencecollectif It should be pointed out that the culturalist solution of the problemsof economy of action and social predictabilityis not a unique solution."To the extent that socialization is indirect (by experience). "uncertainty" of action also begetspower-arbitrary power. "cultural" peopleprocessexperience intoactionthrough general cognitive. Ifthisis so.To the extentthat socialization is direct (by precept).but themselves invest structures and behaviorwith cognitive and normativemeaning.Without suchpreknowledge sociallife wouldtend to be entropic. And this is so in in decisions to act order to "economize" and to achieve predictabilityin social interactions. where unformed children encounter formed adults.(Itshould that the two accounts of econapparent omy of action and social predictability providea good basis for evaluating the relativepower of culturalist and rationalistperspectives.) To summarize.the patternsof such predispositions vary from society to society. early learning conditions later learning and learninginvolves a process of seekingcoherencein dispositions. The assumptionsof culturalist theory manifestly lead to an expectation of continuity. even in cases of changesin the objectivecontextsof political actions. 82 count all pertinent information and lack of information. then in schools. Cultural continuity also manifestly follows from the assumptionthat orientations are formed through processes of socialization. generational continuity still follows. economyof actionis providedby "ideologies" or by the sensible delegation of decision-making powers(Downs1957). As Crozier (1964)has cogently argued.would hardly be without reliable possible of preknowledge others'actionsand of the effectof one's own actionson thoseof others. Theylead to erratic. may also be achievedthroughrationallyformulated and enforcedcontractual arrangementsor general be legalrules. In either case. similarly.the aggregates: absenceof anythinglike a stable conin the latter.in therationalistperspective. .however plausible it may seem.affective.

The second makes unlikely the internalizationof piecemeal orientationalchange that might increase dissonance. from the assumption of orientational cumulativeness. Throughthat door. then it is always tempting to extemporize theory-saving 793 "special"conditions. namely. Situational Change Pattern-Maintaining Change Actors must often face novel situations with which their dispositionalequipment is ill suited to deal. one is likely to end with the term continuity meaning nothing more than "not completely (or instantaneously) changeable"-which drains the meaning. It is an expectationakin to that of inertiain the Galileanconception of motion. If. But if change in culture patterns and themes were categorically excluded. in order to prevent ad hoc tinkering with culturalistpostulates and their implications. however. theoreticaldifficultiesarisefrom emphasizing early socialization. and deceleration. The world changesor presentsus with experiencesthat are un- . parsimonious culturalworld. The notion of continuity as inertiain motivations (the psychological counterpart of physical motion) thus opens the door to culturalistaccounts of change. Physical inertia does not rule out changesof directionor rest. political culturetheory must immediately be thrown out as obvious nonsense: changes happen. so to speak. Such a theory should state. consistent with culturalist assumptions. most obviously. The first allows some room for adult socialization and resocialization-but not much.It does make such phenomenadependon contingentfactors that may or may not impinge on objects in motion. the tendency toward improvised. the of changethat the political characteristics culture approach can logically accommodate and those that do not fit its constraints. including cultural changes. that earlier learningconditionslaterlearningand that actors tend to seek orientationalconsonance. Continuity is the inherent (lawful) expectationand so.Political Change This. The expectation of continuity in politicalculturesfollows. If one's preferred theoreticalapproachimpliesa strongbias towardthe continuityof cultureor resistance to culturalchange. To formulatesuch a theory. say. incidentally. The saving grace of culturalist theory here is that continuity is.makesthe politicalcultureperspectivequitecompatiblewith the findingthat politicalregimestypically are short-lived (Gurr1974). however. then why not just relax that emphasis and assign more scope for late socializationor adult resocialization?If the assumption of a tendency toward orientational consonance makes it awkward to explain certain observations. then why not simply posit more tolerationfor dissonance?Or why not redefine consonance? In that way. therefore.is resistance to change of motion: exceptionally great forces are needed to induce greatchangesin directionor velocity.This is extermof all reasonable actly the point of Rogowski'scriticismof how culturalistshave in fact accounted for political change. I will considertwo broad types of culturalchanges: from changesin those arising"naturally" situations and structuralconditions and those that result from "artifice"-deliberate attemptsto transformpolitical structures and behavior. The remedy is to develop an explicit generalculturalisttheory of change. post hoc accounts of political change may enter may be bound to enter. an ideal-typical expectation-one that holds in an abstract. or adjustmentsin concepts or theory to handle occurrences of change-especially major change. acceleration. priorto explanations of specific changes.

the more they remain the same. At the level of society and polity. "Pattern maintenance" (Parsons'concept) can take that form just as well as strict cultural continuity. but it also occurs in groups and societies.the adaptationof dispositionsto other kinds of elections should be easier than in other cases. The extentto which per(Whitaker ceptual distortioncan be adaptive to unfamiliar experience no doubt is highly limited. 82 familiar for other reasons (say. The unfamiliar is encountered routinely in maturation. however. distortion"has turnedup fre"Perceptual on how individual quentlyin experiments cognitive dissonance is handled (see Brehm and Cohen 1962). The encounterof novel situationswill. no doubt. An alternative to pattem-maintaining changeis to subjectunfamiliarexperience to procrusteaninterpretationin order to obviate cognitive or normative change. The saying no doubt fits (used to fit?) France.American Political Science Review Vol. however. which Tory governmentsnot only have kept virtually intact but much of which they pioneered.Tory concessionsto 794 Britishworking class voters and interests are the usual case in point. should one expect if such situations persist? If culturesexhibit inertiathen it should be expected that changes in culture patternsand themeswill occurso as to maintain optimally such patternsand themes. In that case no culturaladjustmentsare needed. from lower schools to higher ones. nor are they likely to occur. ChangeToward Flexibility Highlymodem societieshave traitsthat make it especially likely that actors and aggregatesof actors will frequentlycon- . The point applies to reformsof the suffrageand also to the less well known role of the Tories in the evolution of the British welfare state. in which the "candidates"were a small number of ascriptively defined eligibles 1970).like those caused by governmentalinstability or collapse." however developmentmay be conceived. or from changesbroughtabout by protest movements). Novel situations may be short-lived results of ephemeral upheavals. have been the British. or from externallyimposed changes. changes in culture are postuperfectlyconsistentwith culturalist lates if they occur as adaptations to and situationsand if the alteredstructures function of change is to keep culturepatternsin existenceand consonant. So does internal migration and social mobility. To give just one example: party political elections in Northern Nigeria were initially regarded as a version of long-familiar elections to chieftaincy.The pragmaticmastersat pattern maintaining change. The Frenchhave a half-facetiousadage for this sort of patternmaintenance:The more thingschange.as one proceeds from family to school. What. Novel situations also arise from socially internal discontinuities (economic crises or political disruptions. that is to say. Their function-sometimes latent" but in the case of Disraeli's Tory democracy quite explicit-was to maintain Tory hegemony in the face of considerablesociopolitical change through the maintenance of as much as possible of what the Young EnglandCircle consideredthe feudalistic virtues: the disposition to defer to one's bettersand action by the betterson behalf of the lower orders. However. where institutionslike electionsto chieftaincyexist in traditional cultures. and from schools to participation in adult institutions. occur much more frequentlyamong individuals than on the macro level. the penetrationof peasantsocietiesby market forces). novel situations arise from internal "development. Immigrationbrings actors into unfamiliar situations. We know at least a little about the sameway of dealing with the unfamiliaron the politicalmacro level.

First. the more the elements of their cultures will be general. is the most obvious cause. The tendencytowardculturalflexibility can be regardeditself as a way to maintain cultural patterns and themes.In such societies. that pattern-maintaining the more modern societies are. the first expectation. the elements of culture increasinglybecome "forms"that can subsume a variety of "contents. In more modern societies one should not expect cultureto changeas readily as situationsand structures. Situational and structuralchange tend to occur with great frequency and rapidity in modern societies. The expectation of cultural flexibility. 287-91). the obviously difficultproblem of findinga propertrade-offbetweentwo warringimperativesin modem societies.) The rationalizationof modem life-which Weber considered to be its governing trait-thus may be an accommodation to structuralconditions rather than. Old culture should resist new dogma. Generalideas necessarily appearand becomedominant" (Durkheim1960..(Durkheim [1960] already associated rational attitudesand behaviorwith the abstractness of thought necessaryin highly developed societies. Because any changes in dispositionsare costly (dysfunctional)in the culturalistperspective.one should expect as a correlate to the expectationof culturalchange. and interactions predictable. for that reason. abstractness.swift reorientation. and formality may be a crucial element in what has widely been perceived as growing malaise in highly modem societies.. that of cultural flexibility and that of culturalfixity. Ratherone should expect that the will relax. actions economical. 795 I want to make threeotherpoints pertinent to the expectation that cultural and flexibilitywill grow with abstractness social development. vertical and horizontal. the "common conscience"is obliged to to rise above diversityand "consequently becomemore abstract."("Culture" not a bad translationof his notion of a consciencecollectif. contra Weber. not just a theoretical one. The expectationof patternmaintainingchange (or perceptualdistortion) should hold as well. Highly modem society thus may be intrinsically acultural and.Political Change front novel situations. Reconciling fixity with flexibility. "the collectiveenvironmentis essentiallyconcrete [and] the states of conscience then is have the same character."It is probablyno coincidence that some sociologistsearly in the twentieth century (especially Simmel [1950]) adapted the Kantiandistinctionbetween form and contentto social analysis.Durkheim arguedmuch the same point directly. Second. In early societies. their underlying cause.)As societiesdevelop. finally. is bound to be a practical difficulty. that of cultural inertia. rigidityof culturalprescription so that culture can accommodatemuch social fluidity. he wrote. transitory or susceptibleto surrogates for culture-including cults and dogmas.It thuspertainsto politiesinitially based on rigid dogma (like communist societies) that have successfullypursued modernization. Social mobility. Anomie will follow not only from lack of internalguidesto action but from guidelinestoo generaland loose to serve in the relentlessparticularityof experience. So one should expectalso that as culturechangesin such societies.. should hold. should apply to all highly modem societies. As societies become more changeable. and the assumptionof orientationalinertiapostulates resistanceto frequent. thus flexible. the disposition introducesjustthe kind to act "rationally" of generaland flexibleculturetraitthatinherentsocial fluidity requires. No doubt there are limits upon how generaland considerable flexible orientationscan be and still perform theirfunctionsof makingexperience meaningful. it will change toward greater flexibility-and thereforeto reinterpreta- .

in a society like Germany after World War II. like Durkheim's 796 .no less than other change. It becomes highly entropic. we may not simply improvise. then traumaticsocial discontinuity should have logically expectable consequences. We must deal. If the assumptionsof culturalists are correct. bureaucracies. changes in political cultures that occur in response to social discontinuity should initiallyexhibitconsiderable form- lessness. older people should exhibit a good deal of orientationalinertiaeven when traumatic socioeconomic change occurs. if learning is cumulative. the less susceptible they are to "disorientation"-the more mechanisms like perceptivedistortionwill substitute other terms. with social discontinuity. Huntington (1968) later made much the same point. or "national" orientationsto form rapidlyin postcolonialtribalsocieties. the expectation of culturalinertia.No culturalistmay expect. but if so. no patternedaction or interactions would be possibleat all. less pervasivechange. therefore. and Olson (1963)has probablydevelopedit most cogently. evaluative schemes) must be learned again. survive the greatest upheavals (may. to treat cases of social traumasimply as "deviantcases"in which the theoreticalconstraintsof their perspectiveare off-not least. actors should be plungedinto a collectiveinfancyin which cognitionsthat make experienceintelligible and normative dispositions (affect.Evenin such cases. Such upheavals may result as well from economic traumaslike the great inflation of 1923 in Germany (which led to far greater social disruption than the Great Depression-or possibly even the Black Death). a democraticpolitical culture to form. indeed. Instead. however. as refuges of predictableorder). traumatic social discontinuity will have cultural consequences differentfrom contextualstability or less rapid.American Political Science Review Vol. 82 tions of dogma that make it increasingly pliable. and learnedcumulatively. And traumaticchangesometimes strikes special segments of society rather than the whole.Social upheaval may overcome culturalinertia. for instance. Culturalistshave tended either to avoid the matter or. be strengthened by them. social discontinuity never is total-intimate social units. like the family. To say that formlessnessunder conditions of socioeconomic discontinuity should be "considerable"is not mere hedging. As well. In any case. The one consequenceof social trauma absolutely precluded by culturalist assumptionsis rapidreorientation. The idea that rapid. If it were. Changesresultingfromwar or from the formationof new politiesalso generally involve upheavals in social contexts. Cultural entropy can never be complete. Rapidindustrialization is the case in point usually cited. in a few short years.as well as "normal" change. The essence of the matter is that culture loses coherent structure. worse. For formlessness one may anomie or Merton'sdeinstitutionalization. large-scalecontextual changes are personally disorienting and culturally disruptive is hardly new. CulturalDiscontinuity Contextualchangescan be so considerable or rapidor both that neitherpatternmaintaining changes nor changes that gradually relax cultural rigidity to deal with social fluidity are possible.despite the fact that high levels of such developmentare relatedto political stability. We may surely suppose that the more ingrained orientations are and the more they are consonant systems. so too do structuresthat are supposedlymerely instrumental-for example. Lipset(1960)argueda generationago that rapideconomicdevelopmentis associated with political "extremism" ("anomicprotest movements"like anarchismand syndicalism). Obviously.

In fact.. opportunistic conformitybendsnormsand rulesfor private advantage-including that of getting ahead in the competition for political power. 246)." 'He is a publicnuisance. where (as in schools) discontinuityoccurs through movement into an unfamiliar but intact culture. How then do people act politically if political cultureis highly formless? We can get usefulclues to answersfrom on an analogousexthe growingliterature perience: how children adapt to novel situations that they enter in highly discontinuousways: going to school. CharlesDickens observeda lot of that sort of behavior in his travels in Americaas he reportsthem in his Amen797 can Notes.. one should expectwhat Mertoncalledretreatism underconditionsof culturaldiscontinuity. in regardto a very successfulbusinessman. Burkeprescientlyremarked(in 1790) that when cultural constraints are off. retreatistbehaviorinto parochialworlds or ritualisticconformity are thus more likely. Perhaps one should expect it even more in cultures greatly unsettled by upheaval. . for instance. Rebellion against. Self-serving. sir. I just do what I'm told . Ritual conformity is compliance without commitment.. 45). but it will tend to have certain characteristics. I mention Dickensbecauseone should especiallyexpect "smart" conformity in immigrant societies or immigrantsegmentsof society. conformitywith authorityis still likely to occur. and the like. Thus. and political discontinuities to political violence-from Marx to Moore and Skocpol. [I] ain't got much choice. One does what the rules or rulers prescribe. "the worst rise to the top" (1923.' 'In the name of wonder.In Merton's technology. sir. especiallywhere governingpower-if not authority-is strong. not for any discerniblereason but (quoting from a lower-class Britishpupil interviewed by Woods) "because I behave meself . are always likely to transigence. neighborhood. Rebellionand inhowever. [to make participants]oblivious for the time being of [their]actual situation"-or both. Governmental authority will. retreatism tends to involve self-imposed isolation-for instance..which dealt in general terms with behavior under conditions. debased. In Almond and Verba'sschemeof concepts. and intransigent resistance to. economic. more familiarworlds of family. More commonly than conformity." In the small worlds of schools. what is his merit?''Well. authority are also likely responses to the experience of cultural decay. Retreatisminvolves withdrawing from the "alien"larger society into the smaller.. then.' . survive culturaldiscontinuity. he is a smart man' " (1957. 'And he is utterly dishonest. Much of the literature on this subject(like Wakeford1969 and Woods 1979) has been informedby Merton's (1949) path-breaking study of the bases of deviantbehavior.Political Change be used to invest experience with accustomedmeaning. it is likely to become more powerful dispositions to the extentthat internalized cannot govern actions and interactions. it shouldshow up as increased"parochialism." as Almond and Verba called them). village. be costly and call for much energy. as general culture defines morality). it will tend to be ritualistic or else self-serving (opportunistic and of dubious morality. more or less "anomic" Under conditions of cultural discontinuity." Conformity of this sort may be supposed to occur frequently in cases in which the former -political cultures and subcultures prescribed high compliance ("subject cultures. of course. Thus.. is he not?' 'Yessir. A voluminous literature links social. . or going from one to anothertype or level of schooling. . and profligate?' 'Yes. into remote places and daydreams or what Woods calls removal activities-"unserious pursuits which are sufficientlyengrossing.

more briefly. is oddly lacking. the processof reformation of politicalcultures should be prolonged and socially costly. The expectationis logical also if older people. 82 What should follow over time from contextual and cultural discontinuity?If economy of action and predictabilityindeed are imperatives in individual and collective life. Thus. or polity.g. indeed. Hannah Arendt (1963) undoubtedly was right in arguing that attempts at are distincrevolutionarytransformation tively modern-that revolutions as we think of them (not mererebelliousattacks on authoritiesor theiractions)begin with the Frenchand Americanrevolutions. there always exin a sea isted a largeislandof achievement of ascription-the celibate clergy. If indeed this were found to be so.or natural.We might thus posit as a generalexpectationthat in the process of culturalreformationconsiderable age-relateddifferences should occur. Rejai and Phillips1979 and Wolf 1973).. anticipations of them. the incentive to inquire into age-related cultural differences. cling to long-fixed dispositionseven in face of strong forces that might unsettleinertia. so one should expectto find in social macrostructures particular segmentsthat have traits especially conducive or susceptibleto reorientation. in fact. coursestoward unprecedented Transformation. the cultural perspective upon theory would be enormously strengthenedover alternatives.mighteven be expectedto be a major basis for subcultural differentiation. In fact. . groups-groups that socially "marginal" occupy the fluid intersticesof established cultures-should be highly susceptibleto in the rereorientation. economy. and (becauseof withdrawal)forced mobilization and rebelliousnessagainst it. and as culturalistshave built adult learningincreasinglyinto their approach in orderto accommodateill-fitting facts.Empirical work pertinentto the expectation. The clergy. however. as is likely.It can also be the objective of military conquerorsand of nation builders or other modernizers. Revolutions. has regrettably declined. I want to make anotherpoint about the reformation of dispositions and culture patterns. for instance. In Western traditional societies. thus culture patterns and themes:to set society and polity on new objectives. As the young should be more susceptibleto reorientation than the old. played a considerable role in the emergenceof modernpolitical institutions-despite its stakein the distribution of traditionalprivileges. in the transitional period. Thereis a good deal of literaturemaking the case that this is indeed so (e.thus "vanguards" orientingof unsettledsocieties. is the objective of modernrevolutions. they should emerge only slowly (overgenerations) and.Similarly. withdrawal. Political Transformation By transformationI mean the use of political power and artifice to engineer radically changed social and political structures. at great costs resulting from raw power. This is all the more likely to be the case if parochial units remain intact refuges from discontinuities in society. one should expect new culture patterns and themes to emerge.American Political Science Review Vol. provide the most unambiguousand dramaticcases.typically. But if dispositions are formed by cumulative learning. however. I will thereforeconfine my remarksto themthough what is said about them should also apply to transformation attemptedin other ways. which hardly could be ascriptively recruited.As were long as politicaland social structures considereddivinely ordained.By 798 "conducivetraits" I mean structuralor dispositionaltraitsreadilyaccommodated to new culturepatternsor. age. in cases of pronounceddiscontinuity. in both established and transitionalcontexts.

and it overlapped a good deal (even before Stalin) with attempts to "storm" society (especiallyits more backwardparts)with head-on "administrative assault. making a new beginning did not seem to call for much artifice-no more.""selective . transformative involve not only adjustmentto necessity but also the deliberate engineering of great change.responses to it. accomplishedmuch toward the realization of transformation.then revolutionaries ly do much to reorientpeople in the short run (say. and the like. For reasons not necessary to sketchin the age of the "Godthat failed.Massell'sstudy of Soviet attempts to bring Soviet CentralAsia into modernity (1974) and Kelley and Klein's study of the effects on inequality of the Bolivian Revolution of 1951 (1981). the less likely the more intact is the prerevolutionary culture: the more it provides parochial power or inrefugesfrom transformative stitutionalcenters of resistanceto it. Achieving liberty or equality throughoutsociety simply called for setting polities and societies on their inherentlyrightcourse-right. ending feudal privileges and obligations. If the conventionalnormsand practices of political life are disruptedby revolution. They may also be expectedto bring about movement in the direction of their professedgoals by readily accomplishedactions-instituting wide suffrage. After all. "History" then could only be endlessrepetitionor an intrinsicprogress toward a preordainedend. Revolutions certainlybring upheaval. or else the use of external legal prescriptionsas a surrogate for internalorientationalguides to behavior." really making revolution-not seizing power but the accomplishmentof transformation-came increasinglyto be seen as a task. accordingto Massell (1974). Since revolutionsare themselvesmajor discontinuitiesand since they generally occur in periods of social or political upheavals. although the exceptions often have been notable: for instance. Societies and polities could no more be "transformed" than the heavenlybodies set upon new orbits. societiesand polities afterall. perhaps.Political Change or simply the ways of a folk. can "order" in place of conventional. these processes seem to me especially critical for evaluating culturalist theories and their 799 processes bases. for political artificers. Initially. and they are typically backed by great power and control. he writes. "Revolutionarylegalism"was in fact a device used early after the Bolshevik seizure of power. interestand contemporary relevance aside. kicking out the landlords and redistributingland. systematic studies of that process are few. Inquirersinto revolutionstill are hooked on the issue of their etiology. What. not least governmental breakdown (Edwards1927. internalized culture?Only brutepower. Brinton1965). Unfortunately. of course. One of the decisive traits of modem societies then is the belief that a "new -a felicitous and not redunbeginning" dant expression-could be made in political and social life. Reorientation is. ButI want to state here some expectationsthat follow from the culturalist perspective especially for processes of revolutionary Intrinsic transformation. But if discontinuitybegets "formlessness" can hardof culture. included "avoidance. the expectationslisted in the preceding section shouldapply to transformation. and a difficulttask. than a proper constitution." Neither. the idea of their deliberate transformation hardly could occur. what can be put in their place?We may posit the answer that revolutionary will initiallybe attempted transformation by despotic or legalistic means. in a generationor so). As a first expectationwe may posit that revolutionary transformationis strictly impossible in the short run. But even if revolution only reflects discontinuity instead of engenderingit. given human nature. the expectationstated still should hold.

in highly unusual cases. so will the tendency toward turning as I argued. defining 'legalist" obviously dependson the extent to which cultures as cultures in which legal rules the old culturewas alreadyin disarray. The argumentis somewhat less likely to be a generalresponseto massive categorical: reconstructed culturepatterns cultural disruption. The expectationis not that little Whetherall this also entails the expecchange in "content"will occur: in who tation that in the longer run incremental 800 .and so on.holds power. or revolutionaryvision has muchmeaningat restitutive. and although revolutionary ing with conflictsand disputes.when life again acquiresfixity. abstract. His argument all. extensively.American Political Science Review Vol.and themes will diverge widely from ary or situationalor both. and (especially pertipoint in his critiqueof culturalisttheory. No bution. a cultureform. is "Legalism." posited. it may well be the case that the What of the long-run prospects of short-run effects of attempted transforrevolutionary transformation?I suggest mation are greaterthan the longer-runefthe expectationthat the long-run effects fects. related proposition marginalindividuals who are steeped in that in the course of development civil revolutionary dogma as a surrogatefor law (which regulates social interactions) convention-or people for whom the constantly grows. whether revolution. and lessens cultural simili. Durkheim(1960) argued the likely to be.Culturemust still be learned justify political standpointsor decisions. Kelleyand tion will diverge considerably from Klein (1981) have argued precisely this revolutionary intentions and resemble point." "limited retri. while criminal. are widely known. Indeed. the sort of even more general. law declines. haps by a progressivetransformationof The case I used to make this argument revolutionary visions into mere revoluis contemporary West Germany. also is the case Rogowski the new rulers succeed in modernizing(1974) mainly relies on to argue that re. Sheer culturalinertiawill also play a makes sense if indeed development role in the processof revolutionarydecay. it can hardly sible comprehensive-ways with social replace socialization in small parochial interaction and tend to be punctiliously units.and port of "deviant cases"-that through so will the tendencyof opportunisticcontheir very abnormal characteristicsthey formiststo get ahead. Nor are teachers or role models adheredto. society. it can revolutionary visions and will tend to become. so-to the extent that we should note.divergefrom them in the directionof the sistent surrogatefor normative culture patterns of the old society and regime. as Durkheimargues.and there.""evasion. gets privilege. 'loosens"normativeculturalprescription. In fact.change into pattern maintenance-pertude.teachingcan no doubt play a considerable fore laws deal in highly detailed-if pos. indeed. as in all legal actions are the normalmode of deal. a per. in unfamiliarcontexts. That. that condition typical cases. nent here)flexible. such rules are widely Severalpoints made earlierlead to this used (instead of justice or prudence) to expectation. on a comprehensive scale.so will "retreatist" and Rogowskiseemsto me to miss the realim"ritualist" responsesto discontinuity. by schemingor apcan be used to shed light upon the factors proval.will the tendencyof modernculturesto be orientationcan occurrapidly-the crucial general. 82 participation. I have arguedthis The degreeto which the expectationholds elsewhere (1979b). More can be done in upheavalthan of attempted revolutionary transforma. on the basis of generalizing the case more the prerevolutionarycondition of of the Bolivian Revolutionof 1951. tionary rhetoric.societies." inevitable Thermidorean Reaction is it might be noted here.role in shaping the young."and "massivebacklash.

necessarily.sincetheirassumptions of lead.to an expectation culturalcontinuity-at any rate in a cultural "pure"(abstract. that revolutionary artifice cannot accomplish cultural transformation in the short run. derived from nonculturalpostulatesand similarto that presented here. The problem of testing the theory against experienceobviously remains. cogent. in dispositions. be "formless"-incoherentin individuals and fragmentedin aggregates. despite its centrality in them. while conformity should become ritualisticor opportunistic. and that. Political-culture theories.ideal-typical) world. where all mattersfalling under arein fact "equal. If the power of a culturalistaccount of political change is to be comparedwith that of different approaches to political theory and explanation. attempts at revolutionary transformation will tend to be regressiveor at least have quite unintended outcomes.But leavean openquestion perhaps note that the rulersof the SovietUnion to view the achievecame increasingly changeas a matterfor ment of cultural what they called "systematicsocial engineering"for-as Massell (1974) to commitment it-"a pragmatic describes socialacandsystematic patient relatively at leastas muchtimeandeftion. for a considerable period. as do problemsof operationalizing concepts for that purpose. Culturalists strengthening have a monopoly on such theoretical not when comlegerdemain-certainly choicetheorists-when paredto rational facts confrontthem. in its conceptualcontext." paribus" "ceteris thata it should be evident Nevertheless. to contextual in response or-if the changes bepattern-maintaining contextualchangesinvolve modernizanormative generaltion-changestoward ity and flexibility. potentiallypowerfultheory of political change can be derived from The theorysketched culturalist premises.unfortunately.Hence I appenda note that places my use of the term. Appendix: Culture The termculture. that in such cases retreatinginto intact parochial structures occurs. in the longer run. as sketchedin the first section. that nothing here rules out engineeredchange.. on small or grand scales.wherein of fort wouldbe devotedto the building to traditional bridges society. political tinkering. are needed.that in responseto discultural socialdiscontinuities abrupt 801 positions should. as to acwith the tual and direct confrontation system. Note.Political Change changewill accomplishmore than atwe can temptsat radicaltransformation here. has no precise. thatchanges herespecifies should changes. so to speak-attempted structuralreforms of politics. But obviously theory comes first. . The variableand ambiguoususe of key conceptsgeneratesunprofitable arguments that are merely definitional. settled technical meaning in the social sciences. The theory simply states what should result from such tinkering. But I discomfiting have triedto show herethat culturalists imtoward propensity musthavea strong with whendealing theorysaving provised politicalchange. admittedly. is endemic. In the modem world." traditional Conclusion It maywellbe thecasethatthepolitical hasbeenusedto explain approach culture in thesortof ad hoc and changes political post hoc mannerthat saves-and thus and thantesting rather weakens-theories hardly them. that such transformation will be attempted by despotic power or (mainlyhopeful) legal prescriptions..then generalaccounts of change.but neitherhave others.have not heretofore met the challengeof developinga general theory of change. however.

American Political Science Review Vol. He and collaborators developed action theory in a large series of works. In brief translation. (3) the mannerof investingsituations with meaningis acquiredthroughsocialization.early modem social scientists: Marshall. Interactionin the Action Frameof Reference Situation Ego Cognition Cathexis Cultue internalization institutionalization = (roles and sanctions) Goal Orientations (Includes Facilities) c Communications. what is implicit (occasionallyalmost explicit)in the works of Almond and his various collaborators (Coleman 1960. Powell 1966. Verba1963. which consists mainly of early learning-this imparts the modes of understandingand valuing prevalent in societiesor subsocietiesor both. 82 FigureA-1. Theiruse of the concept seems to be based squarely on Talcott Parsons' "action frame of reference. (2) ego cognitively decodes that context and invests it with feeling (cathexis)-thus the contextcomesto have meaningfor the actor.Pareto.- + signs (symbolic systems) Alter My use of the termculturetriesto make explicit. Towarda General Theory of Action (Parsons and Shils 1951).societies being complexes of interactions(some earlier sociologists The nocalled them acts of "sociation").and Weber (Parsons 1937). (1) ego (an actor) is in a "situation"-an objectivecontext. at the microlevel. these may be called a society's "culture". tion is depicted on FigureA-1. In aggregate. 802 The action frame of referenceis based.Verba1979). on Parsons'notion of an interaction. (4) socializationleads to the in- . the most useful of which probably is the multiauthored book. all highly influential." Parsons first worked out that "frameof reference" as a way of synthesizing four apparentlydiverse.at the axiomaticlevel. Durkheim.

Columbus: Merrill. Edmund.GabrielA. because the meanings of culture vary a great deal in that field. New York:Vintage.1965. 1963.eds.JackW. Patterns of Culture.beliefs. for the purpose of idiographicdescriptionbut also for theorizing through comparisonsand and differences)-I contrasts(agreements take the seminal work here to be Malinowski's (1944). The fourth set of meanings comes closest to that used here. 1962.feelto alter ings. more important.Brown. Sumner1906).Anyway. 1969. (6) cognitions. TheAnatomy of Revolution. 1934. PhenomeCrozier. The Civil CultureRevisited. and JamesS. (7) alterresponds. Bill. .Brown. GabrielA. Almond. Burke. (2) culture is social life in its subjectiveaspects: the knowledge. and goals are communicated (anotheractor) throughthe use of "signs" (symbolic expressions of culture that make ego's actions intelligibleto alter)but actions also depend on objective facilitiesthat are part of any actor'ssituation and that independently affect the choice of goals. and G. My use of the concept of culturehere seems to be justified by usage in political science and. variable set of ways in which societies normativelyregulatesocial behavior (Goodenough1968. The Bureaucratic non..Brown..Political Change ternalization of cognitive and affective meanings(viz. Bingham ComparativePolitics: A Developmental Approach. habits of a society-one finds this meaning (and these illustrativewords) in the seminal work of Tyler (1871) and. 1964. emphasizing how culture conditions changein varyingcontextsof objective change. 1966. by its suitability to testing theories through the catholic deductionof unknownsonce it postulates are explicitlystated.. and SidneyVerba. so that the process resumes. Cohen. Hardgrave. morals.. Note especiallythat the action frameof reference emphasizes neither subjective nor objective factors but ratherhow the two arelinkedin interactions. Alternativesto the notion of cultureI use come chiefly from cultural anthropology.Boston:Little. Almond.1960.(5) cognitionsand afinteraction fective responsesto them definegoals and ways to pursuethem.1973. James."of human thought and action among particular people-Park (1937) comes close to that view. Explorationsin CognitiveDissonance. Princeton: PrincetonUniversityPress. ThePoliticsof the DevelopingAreas. and ArthurR. (3) culture is what differentiates 803 societies from one another. laws. On Revolution. PoliticalSocialization. GabrielA...Culturalists focus on the matters in the box on the right. Almond. and KennethPrewitt. the culturalbecomespersonal) and their institutionalization(the definition of expected behavior in social roles and that of sanctions in case of deviation from expectedbehavior-these make smooth and regular patterns of possible. Benedict (1934) and Kluckhohn (1962). This I have tried to do throughout this essay. Reflectionson the French Revolution.Crane. Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress. Boston:Little.Princeton:Princeton UniversityPress.1963. Powell.New York: Viking. Dawson. New York:HoughtonMifflin.changing the situationin some respect. and SidneyVerba. RichardE. Benedict. Coleman. customs. Brinton.and RobertL.Boston:Little. but they should also bring that on the left into interpretationand theories. I use the plural intentionally. my version of the conceptis that aboutwhich theoretical conflicts have thus far occurred in political inquiry.New York: Wiley.. References Almond. The Civic Culture. later. 1979.Hannah. Ruth.Michel. 1923. ComparativePolitics:TheQuestFor Theory.London:Methuen. Arendt. GabrielA. Brehm. (4) culture is the distinctive. One can probably subsumethese meaningsunderfour categories: (1) culture is coterminous with society: it is the whole complex of the ways of a "folk.

Rational Legitimacy. New York: Harper & Row. The Divided School. RobertE. London: Macmillan. Clyde. Toward a General Theory of Action. Seymour M. Klein. Merton. Research Monograph no. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. University of California.John. Culture and Behavior. and Sidney Verba. EricR.RobertB. Simmel. 1974. & Winston. Talcott. Mancur Jr. The Division of Labor in Society. ThePoliticsof Tradition: Continuity and Changein Northern Nigeria 1946-1966. Goodenough. Harry. Introduction to TheMarginal Man. Whitaker. Wolf. 1960.Talcott. Mustafa. Leadersof Revolutions.New York:Scribners. Peter H. Pye. Princeton: Princeton University Press.1963. Putnam. 1957. Huntington. 1979. 804 . Peter. 1937. The Surrogate Proletariat. and Rhoda Metraux. New York:Holt. 1981. by E. American Notes & Pictures from Italy.1906. The CloisteredElite. Garden City: Doubleday. Glencoe: Free Press. A Scientific Theory of Culture. Harry. Charles. PrimitiveCulture. Gurr. 1927. RapidEconomic Growthas a Destabilizing Force. On the "Science" of the State. Political Man. Rogowski.C. Parsons. Bronislaw. Berkeley: University of California Press. Glencoe:FreePress. 1970. 1949. The Beliefsof Politicians. Lipset. 1962.Trans. 1979a. Gregory. Park. Revolution and the Rebirth of Inequality. American Political Science Review. Social Theoryand Social Structure. An Economic Theory of Democracy. The Natural History of Revolutions. Folkways. London:JohnMurray.BeverlyHills: Sage. London: Oxford. Merkl. Samuel P. PeasantWarsin the Twentieth Century. Edwards. and EdwardA. Kluckhohn. 1974. 1979b. Downs. 1957. New York:McGraw-Hill. 1973. CA 92717. Stonequist. EdwardBurnett. 1960. RobertK. Eckstein. 68: 1482-1504. Kelley. Rejai. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Persistence and Change in Political Systems. Jonathan and Herbert S. 1973. Rinehart. 1944. Towarda GeneralTheoryof Action. 1951.Themes from French Culture.1871. 44. 1979. The Sociology of George Simmel. London: Routledge& KeganPaul. Harry Eckstein is DistinguishedProfessor of Political Science. Modem Comparative Politics. 1954.and Kay Phillips.Glencoe:FreePress. Description and in Cultural Anthropology. K.Journalof EconomicHistory 23:529-52.1970. Parsons.1937. Sumner. V. Support for Regimes. New York: Oxford University Press. Mead. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Malinowski. Daedalus 108 (4): 1-20. Wolf. Princeton: PrincetonUniversityPress. Princeton: Center of International Studies. Irvine. Margaret. 1968.2 vols. 1968. 1950. New Haven:Yale UniversityPress. Political Cultureand Political Development. 1965. Ward Hunt. Sylvester. Cambridge:HarvardUniversityPress. Comparison Chicago: Aldine. Tyler. Wakeford. eds. LucianW. Massell. George. Lyford P. 1969. Ronald.American Political Science Review Vol.Boston: Ginn. Eckstein. Anthony. 1974. Olson. 82 Dickens. Woods. Shils.WilliamGraham.London:Faber& Faber. Durkheim. Ted R. Political Order in Changing Societies. New York: Free Press. Princeton:PrincetonUniversityPress.. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Emile.