What is the role of political culture in comparative politics?

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Certainly, understanding how a region's culture is connected to the politics of that region is incredibly important when comparing the politics of different regions. For instance, one must be able to understand how religion, indigenous traditions, social changes, and the like play into how people relate to politics in a certain area. The political structures of different places cannot simply be compared without understanding the cultural, social, and religious contexts of the different areas. Additionally, because of colonialism and globalization, one cannot examine political culture without understanding how colonialism and globalization have affected the political culture of different regions. In many Global South nations, there are sharp contrasts between the ruling classes (economically and politically), who generally have benefitted from globalization, often descendants of colonizers (think of how many Mexican presidents are heavily Spanish-descended), and the common folk who tend to be indigenous to the area and who practice more indigenous-rooted ways of living. One must be able to analyze these dynamic realities within political cultures in order to make critically thoughtful political comparisons.

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Political culture is important in comparative politics because it can be used to help us understand why different countries have such different political systems.

For example, one of the most important texts of comparative politics was Almond and Verba's The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations.  This work sought to understand the different political cultures of five countries.  It found that there were very different attitudes towards politics in Italy and Mexico (where people didn't care much about politics and didn't see it as separate from other parts of live), Germany (where they see politics as separate but don't really care much) and the US and UK (where people see it as separate and care a lot about it).  Keep in mind that this study was done fifty years ago and cultures may have changed.

Because people in the five countries have such different attitudes, political institutions and political life are very different.  Thus, the concept of political culture helps us to understand why different political systems are the way they are, which is a major focus of comparative politics.

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