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Political Culture Revisited

Author(s): Lucian W. Pye


Source: Political Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 487-508
Published by: International Society of Political Psychology
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PoliticalPsychology,Vol. 12, No. 3, 1991

Classics in PoliticalPsychology

PoliticalCultureRevisited
Lucian W. Pye'

Although cultureis one ofthemostpowerful conceptsin thesocial sciences,the


disciplineof political science was slow to exploitit in spite of its obvious
relevancefor manybasic concernsin thediscipline,suchas legitimacy, tradi-
tion,constitutionalnorms,and basic nationalvalues.However,once thecon-
ceptwas acceptedin the1950s therewas a decadeofintenseinterest in cultural
analysisduring which leadingfigures in all thesocial sciencesengagedin bold
For variousreasonsinterest
theory-building. inpoliticalculturedeclinedin the
1970s, but recentlytherehas been a revivalof workon politicalculture.A
reviewof the early historymay be helpfulin ensuringthatthe revivalwill
proceedon a solid basis.
KEY WORDS: political
culture; theory
discipline; building.

INTRODUCTION

In thesocial sciencesthereare onlya fewmega-concepts, dominant ideas


thatshape a disciplinebutalso spill overintootherdisciplines.Thereis, for
example,the conceptof the market,centralto economicsbut also of proven
value in rationalchoice and cost-benefit analysesin politicalscience. Other
mega-concepts include
class andcommunity in sociology,powerandpersonality
in politicalscienceand psychology. Arguablythemostpowerful of thesein its
far-reaching but subtle is
implications the of
concept culture,particularly after
theconcepthas beenenrichedbytheinsights andtheoriesof depthpsychology.
This versionof theconceptof cultureexplodedontothescholarlyscenein
thelate 1930s and early1940s at a timewhenthesocial scienceswerein an
exaltedstate,comingof age whenthe worldwas filledwithproblemsthat
seemedreadymadefortheaspiringpowersof thenew "behavioralsciences."

of PoliticalScience,Massachusetts
'Department ofTechnology,
Institute Massachusetts
Cambridge,
02139.

487
? 1991 International
0162-895X/91/0600-0487$06.00/1 Societyof PoliticalPsychology

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488 Pye

Americawas just awakeningfromitsisolationand therewas an excitingworld


outthereto be explored.As we fought firsttheDepressionandthenWorldWar
II, we also becamefascinated withourselves.So bytheendofthewartherewere
lots of different societiesand peoplesto be understood. Totalitarianism, both
Germanand Soviet, needed to be explained;therewas the questionof the
comparative prospectsfordemocracy andcommunism; thenewstatesof Africa
and Asia werefacingthechallengeof nation-building; worldpoliticswas being
transformed byboththeatomicbombandbythenewcommunications age. The
intellectual atmosphere was one of excitement and promise as bold ideas and
theorieswerebeingadvancedon all sides.The goal ofthosebringing "science"
to thestudyof humanaffairs was to see connections, correlations
relationships,
(yes, cause and effect)where none had been noted before,while alwaysguarding
againstharebrained theories.The newscienceshadthequalityof magicforthey
spokeofrelationships thatwerenotvisible,buttheresultswererealandtestable.
Analysis was in, descriptionwas out. It didn'tmatterwhetherit was "thick
or
description" thin, it was "mere description"-intellectual blah,boring,pe-
destrian.To uttera banality calledforan apology,andifonehadto elucidatethe
obviousit was to be done withconvoluted sentencesand a vocabulary of poly-
syllabicwords.New knowledgemeantnew power,as forexamplewiththe
economists'boaststhat,armedwithKeynes'sgeneraltheory,theyhad made
depressionsa thingof the past and theywerenow aboutto bringeconomic
development tothebackward countries. Theoriesaboundedtoexplaineverything
fromchildtraining to thedynamicsof social systems,andeven,withToynbee,
thehistory of civilizations.
In thedecadebeforePearlHarbor,American intellectual
lifewas alsojarred
out of its traditional ways by a floodof exceptionalrefugeescholarswho in-
cludedsomeof thebestandthebrightest thinkersof Europe.As theyfitted into
Americanuniversities theynotonlyassaultedtheconventional disciplinarybarri-
ers but theyalso raisedprofoundquestionsabout whathad gone wrongin
Europe.How couldthecontinent thathad beenthehomeof theEnlightenment
and thedrivingspiritof modern,rational,industrial societyhaveproducedthe
abominations ofHitler'sNaziism,Mussolini'sfascismandStalin'scommunism?
To get answersto suchtroubling questionstheyfeltcompelledto explorethe
humanpsyche,andto bringtogether knowledge fromeveryfield,frompsychol-
ogy and sociologyto history and anthropology. Stimulated bypowerful thinkers
fromEurope,Americanscholarssoonadaptedto thisstyleof workandbecame
equallyengagedin askingprofound questions.
It was in thisatmosphere of creativity thatanthropology pioneeredin ex-
ploitingtheinsights ofpsychoanalysis indealingwithsomekeyproblemsofthe
social sciences.This gave anthropology an extraordinary burstof intellectual
energy,so it became a kingdisciplineat a timewhenAmericansneededto

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 489

radicallyreshapetheirthinking in orderto understand the ways of a hostof


foreign societies.BronislawMalinowskiandFranzBoas hadearlierinthe1920s
and thirtiesgivenanthropology its leg up whentheytookthestudyof culture
awayfromeccentric, Englishmen
upper-class whohadbeenwandering theworld
to pickup tidbitsof folklorefortheir"goldenboughes."Theyestablishedthe
idea thatcultureshad a dynamiccoherencein thattherewas a definite interre-
lationship betweenthewholeand theparts;thatis, betweenthestructure of the
cultureand thepersonality characteristicsof the individuals.The core of the
disciplinenow came to be "cultureand personality."
The franticneedduringthewarto trainAmericans aboutotherculturesled
to thecreationof areastudies,a uniqueAmericanacademicinvention, in which
anthropology a
played significant role. The discipline that had contented itself
withdescribing and interpreting
thefolkways ofprimitive, village-scalecultures
now declareditselfreadyto "come home" and to answerquestionsaboutthe
majorpowersoftheworld.The hubrisofanthropology atthattimeis reflected in
suchbooksas ClydeKluckholn'sMirrorforMan. Give theself-confidence of
anthropology it did notseemstrangeat all thatKluckhohn himselfshouldhave
beenappointedthefirstdirector oftheRussianResearchCenterat Harvard,one
of theearliestarea studiesprograms.At Yale, anthropologist GeorgeP. Mur-
dock'sHumanRelationsAreaFileswas greatly expanded so as to embraceall the
major countries of the world.
Anthropology, armed with the conceptof culture,
was readyand anxiousto explainbehaviorin all societies.
Immediately afterWorldWarII a generation of Americanundergraduates
was also beingtaughttheimportance ofcultural differences,andtheirtextswere
RuthBenedict'sPatternsof Cultureand MargaretMead's Comingof Age in
Samoa, whichhad appearedin the 1930s. As theUnitedStatesshedits isola-
tionismandbecamea globalpower,American educatorswereconvincedthatits
futurecitizenswould have to appreciateculturaldifferences and thusend a
traditionof ethnocentrism whichitwas assumedtookone oftwoforms.Ameri-
cans, it was thought,eithersaw all non-Americans as undifferentiated "for-
eigners,"different fromus butlikeeach other;or theybelievedall peoplewere
just likeus, withoutanydistinctive character of theirown.
Thesedevelopments werenotloston politicalscience.In 1948 in thefirst
issueof WorldPoliticsthepoliticalscientist NathanLeitespublisheda seminal
methodologicalarticle, "Psychocultural HypothesesAbout Political Acts,"
whichcame veryclose to usingtheconceptof politicalculture.It was odd,
however,thatit was notuntil1956 thatGabrielAlmondexplicitly brought the
conceptof cultureto politicalscienceand establishedthe theoryof political
culture.Its tardyarrivalwas surprising because politicalscienceis a preemi-
nentlyAmericandiscipline,notjustbecauseover90% ofpoliticalscientists are
eitherAmericans orAmerican-trained, butalso becausepoliticalscience,likethe

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490 Pye

Americaneconomy,freely"imports"ideas fromotherfields,withno regardto


the "balanceof trade,"and is thusblissfully unconcerned aboutits own "ex-
ports," or even whether it has anyto give to theothersocial sciences.
The slownessof politicalsciencein latchingontotheconceptof political
cultureis madeevenmoresurprising because,first,theconceptansweredseveral
needsin politicalscience,and second,as a disciplineit had alreadybeen sen-
sitizedto thevaluesof depthpsychology. All classicaltheorists fromAristotle
andPlatothrough Montesquieu Tocquevillehavestressedtheimportance
and for
understanding politicsin termsof customs,mores,traditions, norms,and hab-
its-all of whichare aspectsof culture.BothAristotle and Montesquieuwere
explicitin identifying certainkey values as beingcriticalin determining the
characterof different typesof politicalsystems.For Aristotledemocracyde-
pendedupon the attitudes and values of a middleclass; forMontesquieuthe
criticalvalue formonarchy was honor,fordemocracy integrity,and fortyranny
fear.Moreover, thefundamental conceptoflegitimacy, whichis centraltopoliti-
cal philosophy, is obviouslyenrichedwhenviewedin culturalterms.Similarly
theconceptof ideology,notin theMarxiandogmaticsense,butas usedbyMax
Weberand Karl Mannheim,is also veryclose to culture-indeed,Clifford
Geertz(1973, pp. 193-229) has suggestedthattheyare essentiallythe same.
Thus, whilepoliticalsciencemayhavebeenslow in pickingup theconceptof
politicalcultureinthe1950s,itwas readytomakequickandextensive use ofthe
conceptonce it was introduced.
The delayin acceptingthepsychologically enrichedconceptof culturein
politicalsciencemayhavebeendue in partto theway in whichFreudianpsy-
chologyhad beenearlierbrought to thediscipline.Thistookplace in the 1930s
whenCharlesMerriamsentHaroldLasswellto Viennato findoutmoreabout
whatDr. Freudwas discoveringabouthumanmotivations. Lasswell quickly
the
appreciated potential of Freud's but
insights, he disagreed with Freudon how
to applypsychoanalysis in socialandpoliticalanalysis.WhereasFreud,in such
worksas Totemand Taboo, saw humanevolution as a reenactment of thestages
of individual"libidinal"development, and a playingoutof theclashof id and
superego,Lasswellmadethecriticaldecisionthatinstitutions shouldbe seenas
having theirown separate histories,and that psychoanalytical interpretations
shouldonly be used to explainthe behaviorof individualsas theyperform
historicallydefinedroleswithininstitutions. The strength of Lasswell'sPsycho-
pathology and Politics
lay in itsdetailedanalysisof the lifeexperiences ofpeople
withdifferent ideologicalorientations, who were a of
performingvariety political
roles, fromadministrators to agitators.AlthoughLasswell was interested in
grouppsychology with to
respect propaganda, he did not to
try explain dif-
ferencesamongpoliticalsystemsin psychological terms.Thus, Freudianpsy-
chologywas keptat theindividual levelduringitsfirst introduction intopolitical
science.(Two unfortunate eventshaveincalculably hurttheadvanceof political

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 491

psychology. happenedin 1938whenHaroldLasswelllefttheUniversity


The first
of Chicagowiththeintention ofjoiningforceswiththepsychiatrist HarryStack
Sullivanand theculturalanthropologist EdwardSapirto establisha program on
cultureand personality at theWilliamAlansonWhitePsychiatric Foundation in
Washington, D.C. The twomovingvanscarrying Lasswell'sfilescollidedon the
highwayand theyears'of workhe had donein collecting psychiatric dataat St.
Elizabeth'sand otherhospitals,andfromnumerous doctor'soffices,wentup in
flames.Sapirdiedthenextyear,thefunding fortheenterprise fellthrough, and
Lasswell,witha visionofwhattopqualityresearch inthefieldshouldbe, turned
his attentionto othermatters. The othertragedy occurredin 1987 whenNathan
Leites died and leftfileboxes filledwiththousandsof quotationsthathe had
pickedoutfromnearly4 yearsofreadingall availableWestern languagetransla-
tionsof Chinesematerials, and whichhe had meticulously classifiedintomore
thantwothousand categories.Theworkwas clearlytobe a companion volumeto
hisA StudyofBolshevism andthusa studyofChinesebehavior tomatchhiswork
on theSovietelite.Butall searcheshavebeento no availto findthecode book
thatwouldexplainthecategories.I havefoundit impossibleto workbackward
fromthenumbered quotations to tryto figureoutwhatthegeneralpropositions
or themesLeiteswas seekingto illuminate bythecategories.His extraordinary
effort,like Lasswell's yearsof collectinginterview data, has thusbeen lost to
science.)
Thisapproachwas consistent withthefocusoftheearlybehavioral revolu-
tionin whichtheactwas theunitof analysis,andinstitutions, suchas thestate,
weredisaggregated and analyzedin termsof specificpeopleperforming desig-
natedroles.Powerwas definedas theparticipation in themakingof decisions,
and decisionsalwaysinvolvedspecificindividuals, notabstract collectivities.
It
was not the "State Department," or the "Presidency," or "Congress"which
madedecisions,butparticular individualdiplomats,officials, or legislators.
Lasswell's greatcontribution in decision-making theorywas his formula
that"politicalman" involvesprivatemotivesbeingdisplacedon publicobjects
and rationalizedas beingin thepublicinterest. Thatis to say,theenergizing
forcewhichdrivespoliticians andpoliticalactivistslies in theirunconscious and
is thusbasic to theirpersonalmake-upand notjust thelogical applicationof
cognitive calculationsformaximizing valuepreferences. In short,oneshouldnot
extendto politiciansthecourtesiesU.S. senatorsshoweach other,whichis to
ascribeno motivesto colleaguesbeyondtheirpubliclystatedones. Rather,
politicalanalystsshouldassumethatpoliticians aredrivenbyprivatemotivesand
personality characteristicswhich aregenerally established earlyin life.By point-
ing out how the
tricky question of motives can be, Lasswell cut muchof the
ground outfrom under the analytical
utilityofthe of
concept rationality sincethat
conceptpresumesthatone can ascertainthereal motivesof publicfigures.
Lasswell'semphasisuponthepsychology oftheindividual was also applied

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492 Pye

earlytothestudyofcitizenparticipation inpolitics.The studyofvotingbehavior


gained momentum bylookingbeyondpartyidentification andinsteademphasiz-
ing socioeconomic factors, and such demographic considerationsas age, sex and
education, on the that
assumption motivations are formedby the social and
culturalbackgrounds of people. This was theapproachthatinformed a hostof
excitingstudiesaboutwhypeopledid or did notvotethatbeganwithCharles
Merriamand HaroldGosnell(1924) and was continuedby AngusCampbell,
PhillipConverse,WarrenMillerand othersthrough theworkof theMichigan
SurveyResearchCenter,and is to be foundin themajorstudiesbyRobertLane
(1959) and SeymourMartinLipset(1960). In short,whatMerriamandLasswell
had set in motionwas thebehavioralrevolution in thestudyof politicalmoti-
vationwhichsooncametodominate thediscipline, andneverdiedoutinspiteof
theriseof therational-choice approach.
By the early 1950s, however,the problemscalling for analysishad
changed,particularly in thefieldof comparative politics,largelybecauseof the
dramaticemergence, following theend of colonialism,of a hostof newstates.
The emerging nationsdidnothavewell-institutionalized governments andthere-
foretherewas needfornewconceptsto describethem.Eventraditional political
untouched
scientists, bythebehavioral revolution, realizedthatitwas absurdto
applyto suchsocietiestheestablished conceptsofstatehood andofconventional
governmental institutions.AtthispointGabrielAlmondtookthelead inclassify-
ing different typesof nationsaccordingto a structural-functional theoryabout
nationalpolitics.He definedthepoliticalsystemin termsofa seriesoffunctions
thatmightbe performed bydifferent structures.
(Thusforexample,thelegisla-
tiveor rule-making function mightbe performed by a dominantpartyin one
system,themilitary in another, and legislaturesin stillothers.)TalcottParsons
had alreadyled the way in thinking of societiesas integrated systems.Even
thoughParsonsrejectedtheidea thatpoliticscouldbe a systemcomparableto
eithertheeconomicor social systems, hisandShils'sTowarda GeneralTheory
of Action(1952) had a profoundinfluenceat thattimeon politicalscience.
(TalcottParsonsinsistedthatis was impossibleto developa generalsystems
theoryof politicsbecause of theparticularistic natureof thepoliticalprocess.
Subscribing to the traditional liberal interpretationof the natureof politics-
whichincludesLocke's emphasisuponbattlesoverproperty rights,Madison's
theoriesaboutinterests as thedrivingforcein creatingpoliticalfactions,and
Lasswell'sdefinition ofpoliticsas "who getswhat,when,andhow,"-Parsons
saw politicsas ceaselessconflicts overbothmaterial andnonmaterial values.For
him,politicscoveredeverything frombattlesoverproperty and
rights economic
intereststo contention overstatusposition,religiousandethnicidentities, ideo-
logicalpreferences, and not the to
least, striving gain honor and deference and to
ventaggression.Preciselybecausepoliticsalwaysrevolvesaroundquestionsof
whoseox is beinggored,politicalissueswere,inhisview,inevitably parochial,

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 493

situatedin specifictimeand space, and hencenotgeneralizable,as wouldbe


necessaryin thedevelopment of a generaltheory. He acknowledged thatMarx-
ismsoughtsucha univeralistic basisbymakingclass struggle theonlyauthentic
issueforconflict, butinhisviewthismeantthatalmostall ofpoliticsfelloutside
ofthescopeoftheMarxistparadigm.In a conversation, heoncesuggested thatif
one took 2-weeksamplesof all New YorkTimespoliticalstoriesat 5-year
intervals, therewouldbe extensiveturnover as faras theconcreteissuesof the
he
day.Moreover, guessed thatless than 5 percent of thecontroversies couldbe
classedas "class struggle," andeventogetthatnumber itwouldbe necessary to
defineclass struggle so looselyas tomakeMarxisttheory intointellectual
mush.
In a senseParsonsturned Marxon hisheadbysuggesting thatwhatthefather of
Communism had dismissedas themere"superstructure," thegame-playing of
therulingclass, was infacttherealpoliticswhichdriveshistory, andthat"class
struggle"properlydefinedis onlya minisculepartof the story.Parsonsalso
rejectedthe proposalthatpowercould be made to servethe function which
in
moneyplays making economics a legitimate generalsystemstheory. saw
He
as
power having fartoo many forms and thus alwaysbeingidiosyncratic with
respect to each particular powerholder. Moreover, power cannot be quantifiedor
rankedon a cardinalscale, as is possiblewithmoney.)David Easton,among
others,also pushedahead withthemodelof thepoliticalsystemas havinga
seriesof inputs,the "black-box"of government, and outputs.Karl Deutschin
hisNervesofGovernment madeexplicittheidea thatthepoliticalsystemcould
be seen as analogousto a computer and thuscouldbe analyzedin termsof the
new theoriesof cybernetics.
In a sense,politicalsciencewas goingthrough a transitioncomparableto
whatKeyneshad brought to economicswithhis generalor macrotheory about
economicsystems, whichshifted thetraditional emphasisawayfrommicrotheo-
ryaboutmarketbehaviorand focusedattention on thetotalflowof money,the
relationship of savingsto investments, andtheeffects of government fiscaland
monetary policies on the generallevel of employment and prices.The early
behavioralwork,including Lasswell's,haddealtprimarily withthedynamics of
thepoliticalprocess-"Who getswhat,when,andhow"-and thuswas in the
traditionof the exchangerelationships thatare basic to micro-economics.
Lasswell(1930) hadcomeclose topicturing politicsas a systeminhissomewhat
vaguediscussionsof the"stateas a manifold of events."The theory of national
politicsas a systemof functions and processesbrought to thedisciplinea mac-
roperspective of in-putsand out-puts in whichsocial and psychological condi-
tionsstrongly influenced thein-putsandthepsychology of theleaderscouldbe
criticalin thedecisionsaboutthepolicyout-puts.
Wherepoliticalsciencewas profoundly differentfromeconomicswas in its
acceptance of the of
findings psychology. Economics has limiteditselfto the
rationalactorandhas takenthepreferences inherent inutilityfunctionsas givens

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494 Pye

withoutaskinghow theymighthavecome about.[AaronWildavsky makesthe


important pointthatpoliticalscientists,irrespectiveof whattheeconomistsdo,
havean obligationto studythesourcesofpreferences, andwhentheydo so they
willbe driventostudying culture.See his "Choosingpreferences byconstructing
A culturaltheory
institutions: ofpreference formation," AmericanPoliticalSci-
ence Review81 (1987), 3-21.] Politicalsciencehas alwayssoughtto combine
the best of bothsociologyand psychologysince its domaincoversboththe
and theindividual,thestateand societyon theone hand,and the
collectivity
leaderand thecitizenon theother.All thegreatthinkers of classicalpolitical
philosophy triedto incorporateintotheirtheories themostadvancedknowledge
aboutindividualhumanbehavior.Thusitwas entirely appropriateforthedisci-
plineto tryto embracethefindings of psychoanalysis.
This, however,was not easy, forit was realizedearlythattherewas a
micro-macro problemofhowtoelevatethefindings aboutindividual behaviorto
thebehaviorof collectives.It was herethatthelead takenby anthropology in
developing a theory of cultureand personality proved invaluable.Indeed, the
conceptof politicalcultureseemedperfect forfillingthebill.

TRYING TO DEFINE POLITICAL CULTURE

Yetrightfromthebeginning, thereweredifferencesoverhowtheconceptof
cultureshouldbe definedand used. To someextentthedifferences werecarried
overfromdevelopments in anthropology and psychology. A keyapproachwas
thetheoreticalpositionof MargaretMead, RuthBenedictand Geoffrey Gorer,
among others,who treatedpersonalityandcultureas oppositesidesofthesame
coin. Cultureforthemwas thegeneralized personalityof a people,in thesense
thatthemodalpersonality of a people was theirculture,and thuscultureand
personalitywere essentiallyidenticalfactorsshapingbehavior.At the other
extremetherewerethosewhosoughtto understand culturewithout referenceto
anypersonality dimensions. Culturewas to them the historyof thecollectivity,
and in thespiritof Durkheim, theyrejectedanyneed to look at individualsin
orderto understand groupbehavior.Betweenthetwoextremes therewerethose
whofocusedon thesocializationprocessas thekeylinkbetweencultureon the
one handand personality on theother.Thus,in theworksof AbramKardiner
(1945), Ralph Linton (1945), andJohnWhitingand IrvinChild(1953), among
others,therealities
of thecultureshapedthesocialization processesofa society,
and thepersonalitiesproduced in turnshaped theculture. The teamof Whiting
andChildwereable to testtheirtheories by remarkable demonstrations wherein
theyaccuratelypredicted thesocialization ofa societyafterbeinggiven
practices
onlythemainfactsabouttheculture.Theboldestattempt tomakepersonality the
keyto socialandeconomicdevelopment was possiblyDavidMcClelland'seffort

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Political
Culture
Revisited 495

to devise a scale formeasuring the "need forachievement" or "n-ach." Mc-


Clelland(1953), buildingon Weber'stheory oftheProtestant ethicandtheriseof
capitalism,arguedthatthelevelofeconomicdevelopment amongcountries was
a functionof the degreeto whichpeople in each societywere drivenby a
psychologicalneed to achieve,a basic need whichcompelspeopleto achieve
morethanis necessaryformeresurvival.(McClellandevensoughtto give an
applieddimension to histheory bydeveloping a courseforteachingIndiansand
othersin the ThirdWorldhow to raise their"need forachievement."It is
questionablewhether he was anymoresuccessfulthantheProtestant mission-
arieshad been in theircentury-long efforts to bringtheirmessageof thework
ethic.)
Althoughin retrospect it is possibleto imposea sense of orderon the
variousstudies,atthetimethespiritofexcitement was suchthatthereseemedno
meritin trying to discriminateintermsofeventhecrudestoftypologies. Instead
ofbeingseenas competitive, thedifferent approachesreinforced eachother.For
Americanintellectuals, France,forexample,becamea farmoreinteresting soci-
etywiththeappearanceof suchvariedworkson LaurenceWylie'sA Villagein
theVaucluse,StanleyHoffman et al.'s In SearchofFrance,MichaelCrozier's
The BureaucraticPhenomenonand NathanLeites's severalstudiesof French
politics.
In thefirstphasesofpolitical-culture work,therewas a tendency tothinkin
termsof nationalcharacter. Some of thisworkwas quiteoutstanding, as in the
case of RuthBenedict'samazinglyinsightful and solid analysisof Japanese
culturein Chrysanthemum and theSword.Anotherimpressive earlystudywas
thepsychiatrist HenryV. Dicks'sstudyof Russiancharacter basedon extensive
interviews withdefectors.Dicks foundthatthe outstanding traitof Russian
personality was a profound ambivalencebetweenactionand inaction,between
wishful thinking andpassivelyaccepting fate,betweena needforquickgratifica-
tion and patientsubmissiveness, betweenimpatiently, wantingchange and
cynically dismissing thepossibility forimprovements. Russianleaders,however,
feltthattheycouldriseabovetheweaknessesofthemasses,buttheirappealsfor
disciplinemadethemproneto theauthoritarianism inherent in theRussianauto-
cratictraditionin ruling.ReadingDicks todaymakesone almostfeelas though
he weredescribing theactionsof, and thepopularresponsesto, MikhailGor-
bachev,YegorLigachev,and BorisYeltsin.
In anotherstudyof Russianpersonality Geoffrey Gorerand JohnRickman
(1945) wenta bittoofarformostpoliticalscientists, however, intracing Russian
character tothepracticeofswaddling babies.Theyhypothesized thatthepractice
of tightlywrappinginfantsproducedextremesof privationand gratification
whichpredisposedadultRussiansto theirextremes of submissiveness and ex-
of
plosive violence, greed and abstinence, and theirwillingness to submit to
brutalauthority. Skeptics called the theory"diaperology," but it also came at a

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496 Pye

timewheneducatedAmericanswerefascinated withtheoriesof childtraining


and weretherefore hypersensitiveto the possible lastingconsequencesof what-
everwas done in thecareof infants.
The national-character approachwas, however,brought to an almostcom-
pletestopin 1954as theresultofan articlebyAlexInkelesandDanielLevinson
whichwas supposedto havebeenwritten in thespiritof constructive criticism
butwhichcalledforimpossibly highscientific standards.Inkelesneverrejected
theidea of nationalcharacter; he onlymadeit impractical to use it.
In thetransition of culturetheoryfromanthropology to politicalscience,
therewas considerable initialuncertainty abouthowtotreatchildhoodsocializa-
tion.It soonbecameclearthatitwas a hugejumpto go from,say,toilettraining
to thebehaviorofgovernment officials.
The problemwas easedsomewhat bythe
introduction of theconceptofpoliticalsocialization andpoliticalrecruitment. It
was thuspostulated thataftertheearlysocialization intothegeneralculture there
was a secondprocessofpoliticalsocialization in whichpeoplelearnedaboutthe
politicalsystem. This additionwas welcomed by thosewho wereinstinctively
uncomfortable aboutpsychoanalytical theorizing. Theycouldnowturnto learn-
ing theory and cognitivedevelopment as theories whichtheyfeltgave more
weight, and hence to
respect, rationality. By the early1960s,therewerenumer-
ous studiesabout how schoolchildren learnedabout politicsand what they
thought aboutpoliticalfiguresand institutions.
Ratherfarfetched linkagesof cause and effectweretolerated notonlyby
behavioralscientistsbut also by the moresedatedisciplines,such as history.
WilliamLanger,in hispresidential addressto theAmericanHistoricalAssocia-
tion,had called forthe of
acceptance psychoanalysis forexplaining theconduct
of historicalfigures.In thefieldof intellectual scholarsweretracing
history, the
trailof ideas in termsof themostsubtleof empiricalhints.

POLITICAL CULTURE AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT

Much of the earlyworkon politicalculturewas caughtup in '50s-era


excitement overthe abilityof politicalscienceto figureout theprospectsfor
politicaldevelopment of new statesin developingareas. Moreover,thisexcite-
menttookplace inthecontext ofa worldwhichhadjustseenthebriefsuccessof
suchseemingly irrational
ideologicalmovements as Naziismand was nowcon-
frontingthepotentialspreadofCommunism. The problems ofpoliticaldevelop-
mentclearlycalled forinterdisciplinary research.Anthropological studiesof
Africanand Asianculturesappearedto offer richmaterialforunderstandingthe
processesassociatedwithnation-building. The prospectsforeconomicdevelop-
mentalso clearlydependeduponhumanmotivations andhencetheappearanceof
psychologicallyorientedtheoriescreatedby sucheconomists as EverettHagen.

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 497

At thetime,India was seen as thearchetype of developingcountriesand in a


short
surprisingly period social scientists from severaldisciplines,helpedbythe
concept of culture,became interested in and knowledgeable aboutIndiansociety.
In an understandable way, the theories about the "crisisof modernization"
and of "mass society"whichwereformulated in the1930sand '40s to explain
theriseoftotalitarianism in Europeinfluenced theearlyworkon thedeveloping
countries.These theoriesstressedthe likelihoodof connections betweeneco-
nomicand social conditionsand themoodsof peopleand therefore pointedto
likelypoliticaltrends.Such works as Erich Fromm's Escapefrom Freedom and
Hannah Arendt'sOriginsof Totalitarianism, whichemphasizedthe conse-
quences of people's feelingrootlessin the modernworld,made it seem not
unlikelythatpeoplecaughtbetweentheirold traditional culturesandthemodern
worldmightalso feelrootlessand be inclinedto wantthecomforts of totalistic
ideologies.Thus, work on developments in theindustrialized countries, suchas
thestudyof McCarthyism in termsof theriseof a "radicalright"on thepartof
an insecuremiddleclass, putthespotlight on thepossiblepsychological inse-
curitiesof people experiencing rapid social change in the developing world.
Muchof thisworkwas givena stronger theoreticalbasisthrough thepopularity
of ErikErikson'sconceptof individualand groupidentity. (In myresearchon
whycertainoverseasChinesein Malaya had turnedto communism, I was not
surprised to findthatthey had a strong need forbelonging.My subsequent work
on Burmesepoliticalculturewas influenced byparticipation ina faculty seminar
at MIT led by Eriksonwhenhe was finishing YoungMan Lutherand was
developinghis theoryof identity crisesin historical contexts.)
The problemsofnation-building poseda doublechallengeforculturalanal-
ysis. The needwas to tryto understand boththepsychology of culturalchange
basic to thegeneralconditions of colonialism,nationalism and modernization;
andsecondlytheparticular problems ofquitedifferent traditionalcultures adjust-
ingto theworldsystemsof politicsand economics.An outstanding exampleof
grapplingwiththe firstproblemwas 0. Mannoni'sProsperoand Caliban, a
sensitivestudyof thepsychology of colonization.Dealingwiththeexperiences
of the people of Madagascar,Mannonicarefullytracedthetransition froma
traditionalsociety,in whicheveryonehad a strongsense of belongingto a
commonheritage,to an earlycolonialarrangement, in whichindividuals found
clearlydefinednichesin thenewsocial structure. Some rejoicedin fullytaking
on EuropeanwaysandbecomingmoreEuropeanthantheEuropeancolonialists.
This was made easierbecause thecolonizerstendedto be lower-middle-class
Europeans,and someupper-class "natives"wereable to identify withtheEuro-
peanupper-classes. (One is reminded ofJawaharlal Nehru'sfather, thesuccessful
lawyer,sendinghis shirtsall the way to Franceto be launderedbecause the
Indianscouldn'tgetthestarchright:)However,as moreof thecolonialpeople
becameeducatedandWesternized, thesecurity ofdependency gaveway,andas

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498 Pye

theculturalgap betweenEuropeansandAfricans narrowed, whatremainedwas


seen as only the productof discrimination. Independencebroughtout deep
ambivalencesas feelingsof abandonment mixedwiththepeculiarcombination
of a superiority complexand an inferiority complexso commonin transitional
societies.
The universalpatterns ofpsychological reactions to acculturation
to moder-
nity had to be understoodas being modified by the distinctivecharacteristics
of
theparticular traditional
cultures.Forexample,theresearchof thepsychologist
G. MorrisCarstairs(1957) providedscholarsearlyon withpenetrating insights
intoHinduculture,which,giventheIndianfascination withintrospection,was
soon followedby numerousstudiesby Indiansthemselves,rangingfromes-
sayistslikeNiradChaudhuri (1965), socialscientists likeAshisNandy(1980), to
psychiatristslike SudhirKakas. The analyses which soughtto combineboththe
universalistic and the particularisticdynamics of cultural changedid in fact
providesurprisingly accurate indicationsof the relative prospectsforeconomic
and politicaldevelopment of thevariousnew states.
Therewerealso ambitiousefforts to combinebold theoretical formulation
withquantifiable sociological measurements. Daniel Lerner in The Passing of
Traditional Societydevelopedan eleganttheory aboutthekeyroleofempathy in
themodernization processand then soughtto show a of
sequentialpath develop-
mentinvolvingurbanization, communication,
literacy, and politicalparticipa-
tion.In operationalizinghistheory, he stimulated numerous studieswhichsought
to confirm or otherwiseadvancehis contributions.

SAMPLE SURVEYS AND INTERVIEWING

Duringtheseyearsanother majordevelopment was takingplaceinthesocial


scienceswhichgavepoliticalculturea dimension thattheconcepthadnothad in
its originaldiscipline.This was the emergenceof samplesurveytechniques.
There was now the possibilityof measuringand quantifying attitudinal
dif-
ferences amongdemographically samplesofpopulations,
representative andthis
suggestedthepossibility thatculturaldifferencescouldnow be objectivelyde-
finedand thusmademorescientific. Stimulation of interest
in thepotentialof
surveyscamefrommanydevelopments, includingSamuelStouffer andhisasso-
ciates'demonstration duringWorldWarII in theirmassivestudy,TheAmerican
Soldier,of theutilityof surveysforattitudinal
andbehavioralresearch.Starting
likea "fishingexpedition"without thedisciplineoftestinghypotheses, Stouffer
came up withthe significant discoverythatcommunications tendto followa
"two-stepflow" pattern-first, thereare the fewwho make up the attentive
publicwho pickout information fromthemassmedia,and then,in thesecond
"step,"theypass italongbywordof mouthto othersthrough informal channels

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Political
Culture
Revisited 499

of communications. GabrielAlmond(1950) advancedthe theoryfurther by


showingthatin publicopinionon foreignpolicyissues,an "attentive"public
followedeventsmorecloselyandthenpersonally informed themasspublicofits
knowledge.Katz and Lazerfeld(1955) thenappliedthetheoryto thestudyof
votingbehavior, whereitheldup welluntiltheadventoftelevision madeiteasier
forthe mass public to get information directlyfromthe mass media. (It is
surprising thatsomeonehas notdevelopedthetheory ofthe"three-step flow"of
scholarlycommunications: In keepingup withourfields,some of us actually
readthepublishedworksof others;othersof us onlyreadthereviews;and still
othersof us relyonlyupongossip.)
It was significant thattheclassic studyof politicalculture,Almondand
Verba'sThe Civic Culture,was a five-country studybased on samplesurvey
questionnaries. Almond had already demonstrated thepotentialof suchan ap-
proach in his Appeals of Communism. What made The Civic Culturesuch a
landmark workwas notjustitsuse ofsurveys, butmoreimportantly, thesurveys
to
sought operationalize a fundamental theory about the culturalbasis ofdemoc-
racy. Almond and Verba that
postulated democracy requires the existence ofwhat
they called a "civic culture," and then they set about to designquestionswhich
would testtheextentto whichdifferent nationalpopulationshad the attitudes
essentialforthe "civic culture."Thus, theirfindingswere notjust ad hoc
comparisons of itemsin randompollingstudies,butrathertheyconstituted an
attempt to determine how differentpopulations to
comparedaccording theory a
aboutthenecessaryattitudinal conditions fora stabledemocracy.
There were some criticismsthatthe Almond-Verbaconceptof a civic
culturewas too closelymodeledon thenormsof Anglo-Saxondemocracyand
thatit failedto appreciateotherpossible formsof democracy,such as, for
example,Africanone-party "democracies,"withtheirever-ruling headsofstate.
(At that time American intellectualswere extremely sensitive about beingin any
way ethnocentric, and this meant not being too possessive of the conceptof
democracy-some were even to
prepared say that in itsown way Stalin's Soviet
Unionhad its democratic elements-and thus it was not thought outlandish to
call Africandictatorships "democracies.") From a later perspective, it is now
clearthattheoriginalcivicculture was notfaroffthemarkindetermining whatis
requiredfora stabledemocracy. Notonlyhavethecontinental Europeansystems
movedsteadilyin thedirectionof the "civic culture"model,butalso, in the
current "transitions to democracy," suchplacesas SouthKoreaandTaiwanhave
seen a gradualstrengthening of preciselythoseattitudes called forin thecivic
culture.
Therewereotherpioneering effortsto use surveysto relatepersonality to
politicalideology.The mostnotableof thesewas theeffort duringWorldWarII
byAdornoandassociatestomeasurewhattheytermed the"authoritarian person-
ality."Adorno'steamsoughtto developseveralscalesforidentifying thetypeof

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500 Pye

rigidpersonality theyassociatedwithbothright-wing authoritarianism and anti-


Semitism.The attempt was nottotallysuccessfulbecausetheirmain"F-scale"
seemedto measureindiscriminately bothideologyandcharacter, andtherefore it
was notclearwhether they had in factdemonstrated that personality was deter-
miningideology.The effort was also faultedby EdwardShilsamongothersfor
itsfailureto recognizethatauthoritarian personalities arealso tobe foundon the
politicalleft and not just on the right.Milton Rokeach (1960) helpedto resolve
thisproblemby empirically demonstrating thatit is possibleto identify people
witheither"open" or "closed" minds,andthatpeoplewith"closed" mindsare
at bothextremes ofthepoliticalspectrum. (In the1960ssomeAmerican radicals
denouncedthecontrast as justanother formof statusquo ideology,whileothers
tookpridein being"closed" mindedas theyrebukedliberalsforbeingwishy-
washy"open" mindedpeople.)
The use of surveymethodshas continued, butthetrendhas shiftedaway
fromtrying to delineatethetotalconfigurations of politicalculturesand moved
towardgreaterprecisionwithrespectto specificthemes.SidneyVerbaand
associates,forexample,significantly advancedtheuse ofsurveys byconcentrat-
ing national comparisons on more limited and precise features of politicalbehav-
ior,such as forms of in
participation politics. Ronald Inglehart (1975, 1989) has
helped to sustain comparative politicalculture work based on surveysby noting
that,withgreater affluence, theissuesbasictopoliticsintheadvancedindustrial
nationshavetendedto revolveincreasingly aroundculturalquestions,and thus
subtleattitudinal differences havebecomeevermoresignificant.
Parallelto thedevelopment of surveyresearchon culturalthemeswas the
of
emergence psychologically oriented interviewing by politicalscientists. The
interestin the1950sin thepossiblebenefits ofpsychoanalytic insightsno doubt
contributed to theidea thatinterviewing whilelistening witha "thirdear" might
havegreatpay-offs forunderstanding politicalbehavior.The idea was nottofind
"facts," as a journalistmight, because memoryis tricky, butto spotmodesof
reasoning, of
patterns thinking about politics,notions of cause andeffect, andto
senseemotionalpeculiarities. Suchresearchwas furthered by the discoverythat
it was ofteneasy to gainaccess to politicalleadersand influential figures in the
newlyindependent countries.
As one whospentmanyyearspracticing thisformof interviewing, I found
thatmostAsian respondents enthusiastically welcomedtherareopportunity to
reflectautobiographically abouttheirearlychildhoods,theirrelationswiththeir
parents,siblings,teachers,andclassmates.Theirdescriptions oftheirearlyjoys
andagonies,ofhowtheywentaboutmakingfriendships anddealingwithpeople
theydidn'tlike, of how theyfirstbecameinterested in politics,and of their
thoughts abouttheirpoliticalheroesandenemiesgenerally provideda fairly clear
pictureoftheirpoliticalphilosophies. RobertLane was abletodo muchthesame
thingin his interviewing of variousgroupsin New Haven.

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 501

ELITE POLITICAL CULTURES

The earliestworkon politicalculturewhichwas premisedon national


character didnotdistinguish betweentheorientations ofpoliticalleadersandthe
commonpeople;everyonewas takento be representative of a commonnational
culture.The introduction oftheconceptofpoliticalsocialization and,evenmore
importantly, ofpoliticalrecruitment,helpedestablishtheidea thatsocietieshave
bothmassandelitepoliticalcultures. Whilesamplesurveys mightbe appropriate
forstudying masspoliticalcultures,andinterviews mightbe possibleforelitesin
some societies,in generalthe studyof elite politicalculturesrequiredmore
indirect techniques.Attheverybeginning ofthebehavioral revolution, andvery
muchinfluenced by Lasswell,therewereattempts to studyindividualpolitical
leadersfroma psychologicalperspective, the best examplebeingthe classic
studybyAlexanderandJuliette George(1956) ofWoodrowWilson.(Therewas
a sharpdividein the intellectual pathbetweenthosein politicalsciencewho
followedthe lead of the Georgesin workingon the politicalpsychologyof
individuals andthoseinotherdisciplines whobecameidentified withthepsycho-
history school,which in itturnfurther
fragmented into sects-much as happened
withtheearlyfollowersof Freud.)The challengewas howto movebeyondthe
individualleaderandto deal withpoliticalelitesas a group.The problemcalled
fortheanalysisofthesocialoriginsandcareerpatterns ofleaders,as was donein
theLasswell,Lerner,andPool elitestudiesattheHooverInstitution at Stanford,
andfromreadingbetweenthelinesofpublicstatements, as was doneintheearly
studiesof theSovietand ChineseCommunist leaders.
NathanLeiteswas possiblytheleadingpioneerinstudying elitesas a group.
Whileworking on thebehavioroftheSovietelite,he developedthetheory ofthe
"operational code." He that
postulated any well-established leadershipgroup
tendedto developa distinct stylewithrespectto strategy and tactics.The pro-
cesses of recruitment and self-selection
wouldtendto ensurethatlike-minded
people would move to topdecision-making postsin anyinstitution. Basinghis
workon thousands ofquotations, Leitesdemonstrated inA StudyofBolshevism
thatthe Soviet elite fromLenin throughStalinhad developedapproachesto
strategy whichwerebasedon strongly ambivalentfeelingsaboutWestern culture
and a felt need to countermany negativetendenciesin Russian national
character.
Leites,as Daniel Bell (1958) insightfullynoted,suggestedthat"character
determines politics."For Leitesthetacticsand strategiespeopleemployin poli-
ticsareessentially theplayingoutofthedefensemechanisms basictotheperson-
alitiesoftheindividuals involved.Whois theenemy?Whois a friend? Whento
attack?Whento retreat? Whatare therelationship of ends and means?Such
questions,anda hostof similarones,makeup thebasic operational code of any
politicalactor,and how theyare answeredis alwaysa function of personality.

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502 Pye

Leitesaddedgreatlyto thestudyof politicalculturethrough his sensitivity


to theimportance ofnotjustthedominant themesinchildhoodsocialization, but
also the counterthemes whichpeople developas reactionsto theirchildhood
experiences.His workon Frenchpoliticsstressedtheconstant balancingof the
tensionbetweenadheringto and rejecting childhoodexperiences.
Althoughhe was personallysophisticated in thephilosophy of thesocial
sciences,Leitesresistedmakingexplicithis theoretical and methodological ap-
proaches.He believedthatin thesocial sciencesall too oftenscholarsleftall
their"scaffolding" in place aftererectingtheir"buildings,"andindeedat times
ithas beenimpossibleevento see iftherewas reallyany "building"thereat all
becauseof all themethodological "scaffolding."
Although ingeneralthestudyofelitepoliticalcultures doesnotlenditselfto
the same kind of quantitative analysisthatis possible withmass political
cultures,it has beenpossiblein a fewcases to use systematic writtenquestion-
nairesforstudying somepoliticalleadership groups. Robert Putnam (1973) was,
forexample,abletouse statistical measuresincomparing theideologicalorienta-
tionof Britishand Italianpoliticians.In moststudiesof leaders,however,the
ideas and attitudesaretoo subtleandcomplexto be captured byquestionnaires.
Whatis called foris morequalitativeinterpretations, based on extensivefirst-
handknowledgeabouttheeliteculture.It wouldbe wrong,however,to saythat
suchknowledgeis only"impressionistic" or "intuitive."
A well-trained,experi-
encedscholaris in manyrespectsa morepreciseand finelytuned"instrument"
formeasuring politicalpredispositions thanthecrudeandsimplistic questionsin
surveys, which can onlyidentify grossdistinctions.Thereare simplyno "scien-
tific" instruments as good as the skilledhumanbeing forthe trulyrefined
measuring called forin, say,winetastingor in evaluatingtheperformance of
thosepracticing theartof politics.

AN ERA OF BOLD THEORY-BUILDING ENDS

By the1960stherewas a sharpdeclinein bothpoliticalculturestudiesand


in boldempiricaltheorizingaboutsocialandpoliticaldevelopments.Ideological
and
position-taking moralizingreplacedpositivistic theory-building.The con-
for
trast, example, in the of
analysis American society has beendramatic.During
theeraofboldideastherewerea hostofinterpretations aboutAmericansociety.
David Riesmanin The LonelyCrowdpostulated thetransition from"innerdi-
rected"to "otherdirected"personalities;MargaretMead's Keep YourPowder
Dry soughtto explainthepeculiarAmericanemphasisupona presumed contra-
dictionbetweenmoralism andrealism;David Potter'sPeople ofPlentyspoketo
theAmericanresponseto abundanceevenbeforeJohnKennethGalbraith popu-

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 503

larizedtheidea of an affluent society;Daniel Bell produceda seriesof analyses


thatled up tohistheory aboutthecultural contradictions ofcapitalism; andLouis
Hartz(1955) was explaining thenondevelopment ofsocialisminAmerica.Yetas
Americansocietyis confronted withnewpathologies, suchas thespreadofdrugs
and therise in violentcrimes,therehas been no shortageof moralizingand
finger-pointing butfewifanystriking theories forexplaining howdrugaddiction
can have becomea nationalproblemat theverytimeAmericansare obsessed
withhealth,givingup smoking,foodfadsand exercise,and worriedaboutthe
dangersof pollutionin the atmosphere and damageto the environment. The
response to theproblems has been less intellectualand more fueled by mood and
anger.
The loss of intellectual
vitality has beenmostdramatic in anthropology, the
discipline that once led the way in "exporting" bold ideas, but which now
createsfewwavesthatspilloverandaffect theotherdisciplines.Clifford Geertz
(1973) became a leaderin suggesting thatmostof the theory-building about
culturehad been based on sloppyand inconsistent definitions of thetown.He
notedthatKluckhohn had used at leastelevendifferent definitionsof culturein
27 pages of MirrorforMan. He called fora return to detailedethnographical
reporting, greatercare about imposingWesternconcepts-and especiallythe
arrogance of "science"-on foreign cultures,andgreater sensitivityinsearching
forthe"meaning"behindactions,whichhe insistedwas theessenceofculture.
The ideal in thedisciplinebecame "thickdescription" and nottheory-building.
(The conceptof "thickdescription" has been widelyassociatedwithClifford
Geertz,who certainly popularizedit, but it shouldbe recognizedthatGeertz
made it clearthatthetermoriginated withGilbertRyle.) Therehas, however,
been some resistence.ErnestGellnersees a "crisisof faith"in anthropology
whichstemsfroman antintellectual schoolofhermeneutics whichproclaimsthat
it is a formof Westernimperialism to apply any rigoroustheoriesto other
cultures, andthat"clarityis somekindofintellectual treason"(Gellner,1988,p.
302). RichardA. Shweder,responding tothesameproblemofa crisisoffaithin
anthropology, has suggestedthatthedisciplineis "in need of a farmsubsidy
programforWestern intellectuals:to avoidfloodingthemarketwithideas, pay
themnotto think"(Shweder,1988).
The intellectual mood by thelate 1960s was thusincreasingly hostileto
theoriesabout culture.At the beginningof thatdecade David Riesmanand
NathanGlazer observedthatcultureand personality researchhad "morecrit-
ics . . . thanpractitioners" (citedin Greenstein, 1975, p. 33). Unquestionably
some of theproblemscan be traceddirectly to practicesand excessesof those
working with politicalculture theory. In fact,rightfromthebeginning anyone
who wantedto be a criticwouldhavehad an easy time,because mostpracti-
tionershavebeenquiteopenin acknowledging theexistenceof methodological

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504 Pye

problems.FredGreenstein (1975), forexample,wentto greatlengthsto meet


more thanhalfwaythe criticsof politicalpsychology, and he showedgreat
respect for the argument that personality mightnot be an important factorin
politics.However,giventhe manifestcontrastsin styleand performance of
presidents Trumanand Eisenhower,of Kennedyand Johnson, of Carterand
Reagan,one wouldhavethought thatthemonkeyshouldhavebeenon theback
of thosewho insistthat"structure" and organization theorycan explainall and
thatpersonality can be ignored.
In the same spiritof not coveringover problems,SidneyVerba(1965)
graciouslyacknowledged thatcultureis oftentreatedas theexplanation of last
resort:ifthereis no otherwayof accounting fordifferences, thenjust say these
are due to culture.But this,of course,can be turnedaroundto make, say,
theexplanation
rationality of lastresort;foras AbbaEbanhas noted,"Men and
nationsbehave rationallyand wiselyonly aftertheyhave exhaustedall the
alternatives."Thatbeingthecase, thenwe shouldproperly employassumptions
aboutrationality onlyafterexhausting all otherpossibleinterpretations, includ-
ing culturalones. (In a more philosophicalvein, it needs to be noted that the
of
concept rationality can lead toforms of circular
reasoning thatareas bad as the
culturalapproachis said to be. Withrationality theanalystassumesthatit is
possibleto knowthepurposeor motivesof theactorand thentojudge whether
therelationship betweenpurposeand action"makessense." But of coursein
politicsmotives and purposesare usuallymasked,and as Lasswell taughtus,
eventhepoliticianmaynotknowwhathis or her"real" motivesare,and what
politicianssay needs to be seen usuallyas "mererhetoric."To deduce from
manifest actionswhat"makessense" purposively is of courseposthoc proper
hoc circularreasoning.A greatdeal thusdependsupontheascribing of motives
bytheanalyst.Forexample,ifone saysthatMao Zedong'spurposewas to build
a strongsocialistChinathenitwouldhavetobe saidthatmostofhisactionsdid
not "makesense" and thushe was "irrational," forhe leftChinain a stateof
nearcollapse.On theotherhand,ifwe positthatMao from1957on was working
covertlyfortheCIA theneverything he did "makessense," in thathe clashed
withtheU.S.S.R., brokeup theunityof thecommunist world,destroyed the
ChineseCommunistPartyin the CulturalRevolution,keptChina out of the
Vietnamwar,and welcomedPresident Nixonto BeijingwhiletheU.S. was still
fightingHanoi. Butofcourseitis absurdtobelievethatthiscouldhavebeenthe
case-all of whichshowshow tricky"makingsense" by usingtheconceptof
rationalitycan be. The moralis thatwithbothcultureand rationality it is
necessaryto use "good judgment,"something thatmaybe hardto define,but
whichcan be easilyrecognizedwhenone sees it.)
Therehave, however,been manifestfailingsin politicalcultureresearch
whichjustifysome of thecriticisms. Oftenit seemedthatresearchgoals got

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 505

reversed,and thatinsteadof cultureand personality beingused to deepenour


understanding of politicalbehavior,theyhavebeenused formakingpolemical
politicalpoints.Some ofthepractitioners ofthepsycho-history movement have,
forexample,playedrather fastandloose withthejargon,ifnottheconcepts,of
psychoanalysis to discreditpublicfigures forpartisanpurposes.Politicalculture
was thustarnished in beingidentified withsomequestionablepsychologically
orientedstudies.Thisbecameevenmorea dangeraftertheKuhnianrevolution,
whichintroduced the conceptof paradigmsto politicalscience.The concept
seemto legitimizethestereotyping of wholecategoriesof researchapproaches
withoutindependently evaluatingtheparticular worthof individualstudies.
The moreaggressiveattackson politicalculturereacheda peak in thelate
1960sand 1970s,andtheycamefromboththepoliticalleftandtheright.Atthat
timethepopulartheory ofdependency forexplainingThirdWorlddevelopments
held thatculturewas irrelevant becausethekeyfactorin nationaldevelopment
was theworldcapitalistsystem,withitsindustrialized "center"dominating and
the
exploiting "periphery." may It not be hard to understand thepopularity of
dependency theory for South American intellectuals,
given theLatin American
traditionofmagicalrealisminliterature inwhichfactandfantasy areblurred and
thereis a generalsuspensionof disbelief.It is moreof a mystery why North
Americanscholars,committed to empiricalresearch,shouldhave takento the
theory at theverytimeinhistory whencapitalwas flowingintotheThirdWorld,
and whenculturaldifferences so obviouslyexplainedwhytheLatinAmericans
endedup withhugedebts,and littleto showfortheirborrowing, whilein the
Confuciancultureareatheborrowing produced industrialmight.(Andno doubt
thesame factorsmayexplainwhyit is theConfucianLeniniststatesof China,
NorthKoreaand Vietnamthatare themoststubborn in resisting the "deathof
Communism.")By the 1980s,however, Robert Packenham amongothershad
shownthatall versionsof thedependency theory were Leninist dogma.Above
all, theopening of China and the "end of Communism" in Europerevealedthat
thedecadesof communist rulehad notobliterated thedifferent nationalcultures
norproducedsocietiesof "new socialistmen."
The attackon politicalculture fromtherightcameintwoforms.First,from
therationalchoiceperspective, itwas arguedthatcultural predispositionamong,
say,peasantscannotstandup to self-interest, rationallydefined(Popkin,1979).
Rationalchoicedoes not,however,haveto be in an either/or relationshipwith
culture,since as Wildavsky(1987) has shown,the utilityfunctions of those
makingdecisionsare culturally determined. Second,therewas thehard-nosed
methodological attackwhichat timescamedownto nit-picking arguments about
quantitativemethods.Suchattackshavenot,however, providedanyhappysolu-
tionsbecausetheycalledformethodological standardswhichgenerally produce
onlyunexciting answersto trivialproblems.

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506 Pye

YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD IDEA DOWN

Politicalculturenowseemstobe returning tocenterstage,although ina less


exuberant form.SamuelP. Huntington (1981) has shownthattheturmoil of the
late 1960s and early 1970s represented less a challengeto Americanpolitical
cultureand morea playingoutof the "disharmonies" inherent in theAmerican
"creed." BruceJentleson (1990) has demonstrated thatpersonality considera-
tionsand organizational theoryneed notbe seen as competingand mutually
exclusiveexplanationsin foreign-policy-making. And as I just noted,Aaron
Wildavsky(1987) makesthepointthatthereneednotbe a conflict betweenthe
cultureapproachandrationalchoicetheory becausethepreferences oftheactors
are culturallydetermined.
Moreover,in the "post-cold-war" worldwe arealreadyseeinga revivalof
ethnicand nationality differences whichtestify to the importance of cultural
factors.As theMarxist-Leninist leadersrelearnthecardinalpoliticalrulethat
persistence in failureis a dangerousthing,theyhave had to allow ethnicand
otherculturalrealitiesto reemerge as significant politicalrealities.The "end of
(dogmatic)ideology"has openedthewayforcultural predispositions to become
thebases forgroupidentities.
In thedecadeaheadtherewillbe severalmajorproblemsin foreignaffairs
which,as inthe1940sand50s, wouldseemtocall forcultural interpretations. A
problemnearthetopof theagendaforpoliticalscienceis, forexample,a better
understanding of the "transitions towarddemocracy"whichseemsto be cur-
rentlysweepingmuchoftheworld.Weneedto answerthequestionsofwhatthe
culturalbases fordemocracymaybe in thecontextof modernizing economies.
Thereis also thequestionof whysomecountries have had fargreatersuccess
thanothersin raisingthelivingstandards of theirpeople. LawrenceHarrison
(1988) has shownhowLatinAmericanculturalpredispositions havebeenobsta-
cles foreconomicdevelopment, whilePeterBerger(1987) has exploredhowthe
Confuciancultureareashavebenefited economically fromfeatures ofthattradi-
tionalculture.The economicsuccessesof Japanand the "fourlittledragons"
haveaccentuated theimportance ofconsidering cultureas one important variable
in understanding theprocessof modernization.
Indeed,as theworldmovesbeyondtheCold Warandeconomicconsidera-
tionsbegintobulklargerinworldpolitics,thereis certain tobe increasedinterest
inthesignificance ofculturaldifferences. The needtodayformoreAmericans to
appreciate cultural differencesin order for the United States to be more com-
petitivein theworldeconomyis somewhat comparable to theneedin the1950s
fora similarunderstanding of foreignculturesforthepurposesof American
leadershipin nationalsecurity terms.
The questionforthe futureis whetherit will be possibleto capturethe
intellectualpowerbehindthecultureand personality idea at a timewhenthe

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PoliticalCultureRevisited 507

exuberanceof its firstdiscoveryis now clearlyout of place. A moretamed


versionof the theory,one thataspiresto be only a collaboratorwithother
approaches,can stilloffera greatdeal ofhelpforpoliticalresearch.Yetiffuture
generations of scholarsare to get thefullbenefitsof theapproach,it maybe
necessaryforthemto go backandactuallyreadthepioneering works.Theywill
findmuchthatcan be safelyignoredbutalso muchthatmaybe verystimulating,
especiallyat a timewhenmuchof current researchseemsto be ratheranemic
withrespectto theoretical ideas. The pendulumappearsto be swingingaway
fromdescription andbacktowarda searchfortheeleganceofboldtheory. In all
likelihood,thefuture swingswillnotbe as extreme as thosein thepast,which
meansthatculturewillnotbe as exorbitantly praisedoras viciouslydamnedas it
has been; and thereforeit will have won a secureand enduring place in social
scienceresearch.

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