Political Institutions and the Civic Culture. A Comparison between Latin America and Europe
WAPOR 70th Annual Conference
Political culture is a complex concept that Almond and Verba (1963) supported on cognitive, affective and evaluative individual orientations towards the political system. These authors seminally proposed three main types of political culture: the parochial type, where orientations towards political objects are more affective and normative than cognitive; the subject type, characterized by a passive relationship of the individuals towards the political system; and the participant type, putting the emphasis on cognitive orientations towards both the input and output aspects of the system and where the individuals have an active role regarding the political sphere. These cultures are congruent with traditional, authoritarian and democratic systems, respectively, being the civic culture a mixed type that incorporates, on the one hand, the rational political participation of individuals in the system and, on the other hand, occasional passivity (thus promoting stability in the democratic functioning of the system), as originally shown by Almond and Verba. Aiming at revisiting this seminal study, this research focuses on the relationship between the civic type of political culture and the characteristics of the political institutions and the context in a broad range of democracies in Europe and Latin America. Our core aim is to assess the extent to which individual orientations characterizing the civic mode of political culture (operationalized with the following variables: political involvement, political participation, trust in political institutions and support for democracy) are affected by the characteristics of the democratic institutions and context factors (economic and social). Our main hypothesis is that more than democratic institutions, the contextual factors are more relevant in explaining the prominence of the civic culture. We use data of the European Social Survey and Latinobarometer, encompassing a sample of 54 countries, covering the time span between 1995 and 2015.