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Civic Culture

  The idea of a civic culture was developed by political scientists working within the functionalist tradition in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They were seeking to explain how the development of political culture affects the maintenance and legitimacy of states and régimes. Its exponents, Gabriel Almond and Sydney Verba, argued that a liberal democracy was ‘congruent’ with a civic political culture: one in which activity and passivity among citizens, civic obligation of citizens and performance by government, and social consensus and cross-cutting cleavages are combined in an appropriate mix. This argument was influenced by behaviouralism (it focused upon the determinants of an individual\'s psychological attitude towards political awareness and activism) and by intellectual reflection on the fragility of the interwar European democracies.

Critics of the civic culture approach to explaining democratic stability have argued that: (1) its conception of causation is wrong (institutions create culture rather than the other way around); (2) it is biased towards an élitist conception of democracy (presupposing the passivity of women and subaltern social classes); and (3) there are cases of functioning liberal democracies despite divided societies without crosscutting cleavages (see consociationalism). The civic culture approach is also condemned as ethnocentric, taking Anglo-Saxon standards of liberal democracy as its implicit benchmark. However, as a pioneering attempt to map out an empirical exploration of political culture the approach still has its defenders. BO\'L

Further reading G. Almond and , S. Verba, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations; The Civic Culture Revisited: an Analytical Study.



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