Home » Culture & Democracy

Culture & Democracy

There may be many ways in which culture can affect political structure of one country or another, yet, arguably the most important way that a countrys culture affects democracy is through political socialization. According to Alexis de Tocqueville and his book “Democracy”, he defines culture as an ordered set of symbols, and in turn, political culture as a set of values and orientations through which one perceives and reacts to authority.

The way that this set of values and orientations is gained by each person, is through the process of political socialization that begins ince early childhood and produces “visible” results as a person becomes a mature individual. While it is hard to draw a clear line of when political socialization is a completed process, mainly due to varying degrees of a each individuals education, it is safe, however, to assume that a person is set in his ways close to the end of his lifes second decade. This assumption, by virtue of being only an educated guess and thus a broad generalization, but not a valid statistic of any kind, has its drawbacks.

One must also take into account the fact that an average persons mind and experience continue to grow nd develop way beyond the age of twenty, thus giving a possibility of weighing the advantages and disadvantages of ones thinking on a particular issue and its alteration. This holds true for most people, provided that they are free-thinking individuals, whose thought process has not been heavily influenced by unnecessary dogmas and hindered by agents of political socialization early on in their lives. This brings us to our next topic.

Parents, school and church are all important agents of political socialization for anybody. Statistical studies have been done and have long since become common nowledge that a child of Democrats is likely to vote Democrat, respectively, a child of Republicans is more likely to vote Republican, although both of said people are free to choose a different way to vote. For many individuals school and church are second homes. Both institutions shape individuals in one way or another, producing different results.

While a liberal school may produce free-thinking, progressive and well-educated individuals, another may shell out obedient soldier-like “good citizens” that are ready to follow their leader through rain and fire in whichever direction. Churches are less likely to vary in the amplitude of their teachings the way that schools do, i. e. although most churches preach obedience to one supreme being or another, they too can produce differently socialized individuals that can range from religious fanatics to liberal individuals that are willing to fend for themselves and not be skewed by the views of the majority.

Enlightenment of a person plays a key role in his personal freedom. Jeremy Bentham once said that “the liberated intelligence is sufficient basis for political order and progress. ” Same can be said about democracy. Better education gives way to independent thought that is likely to perpetuate natural ways of living that ultimately lead to freedom of choice and action, i. e. democracy. This must not be confused with anarchy, where no government of any sort is recognized. Anarchy leads to chaos, which is an unnatural way of life for a person. This can be proven by observing self and others.

Generally people look for patterns in life. They may eat like foods and dress alike from day to day depending on their activities. They may also sit in same places and visit same locations as their life goes by. All this is due to a common goal of extracting the most out of ones position, thus, things that offer the greatest amount of utility are selected most often over the ones that dont. While, at first sight, anarchy may offer the greatest amount of freedom, subsequently it destroys many of the favorable choices for an individual by virtue of being chaotic and becomes unnatural to ones being.

While it is natural for a person to develop self and things around him, anarchy hinders progress, but democracy stimulates it and protects it. One can of course argue that sometimes great progress that ivals that of democratic industrialized nations, can be noticed in authoritarian regimes. As an example one may use an issue like Soviet Union and space exploration. It is common knowledge that the USSR, while having an authoritarian regime, has successfully sent the first man into space. At the time, in 1961 this event was considered of world-class importance and on the cutting edge of technology.

However, most of the other technology such as automobile industry and household products, suffered due to such things as uneven allocation of the workforce, absence of the free market economy and thus willingness to ompete for better quality products. Such competition was stimulated artificially by the government, which, needless to say was unnatural and hindering to the overall progress of the people. A country of vast natural resources and a well-educated populace is suffering from various economic hardships due to lack of democracy throughout seventy-five years of USSRs existence.

Another example can be drawn from observing East and West Germany before their unification in 1989. While the “more or less” democratic West Germany prospered, authoritarian-led East Germany trailed behind. To some, above-mentioned information may be a clear example of great economic virtues of democracy, but let us not digress and return to the issue of political socialization. Most of the world democracies are utilizing a merit-based system of power allocation.

Those with greater degree of competence in one area or another are more likely to play key roles in that area, i. . most competent people are ideally chosen as leaders. To prove to the populace that one is most competent, one must strive to be the best in ones area of expertise. Public then recognizes the mportance of such an individual and selects him/her to be their leader, provided that he will serve public interests. A concept of deference is very important to a successful functioning democracy – willingness of the people of lower classes to defer their governance to the upper classes.

Political socialization of a merit-based system is more likely to produce a democracy than that of a hierarchically ordered one. A counter-argument to this issue may sound such as to say that deference is more of an authoritarian concept by nature. Theoretically it is, however, when eference is implemented in a democracy, such as in the United Kingdom, it is bound to produce great results and put the country on the track of great social and economic progress. Critics may respond by citing the notorious 11+ exam as an important tool of deference that gives way to a highly stratified society.

The reality of the situation is that 11+ exam is not absolutely necessary for the success of democratic deference. This has been recognized by masses and is being done away with by the ruling Labour party. In France, education and raising of cultural standards has also paved the way for a democracy. Interestingly enough, a boost in education that in turn prepared public for more democratic life, was brought about by Napoleon. He built an army of conscripts from different areas of the country that spoke different languages.

In order for the army to function properly, soldiers needed to be able to speak a common language. Thus, mass education of soldiers was undertaken which trickled down to their families and settled with later generations. Non-cross-cutting cleavages such as peoples religious cleavage that did not get in the way of a working cleavage and provided for oppression of the ower-class masses, also resulted in a more democratic society by producing coup detats. At the time it was unlikely for the newly-formed democratic society to revert to monarchical rule.

This proves that people, whose political socialization included largely democratic ideals will always select democracy over any form of authoritarian rule. It has been said that parties reflect societies they represent. Modern parties have become instruments of democracy and can be found in most countries around the world. It has been also since long recognized that in most cases a person etermines his adherence to a party through the process of the political socialization, thus a majority of the democracies must be thankful to democratic way of political socialization and political culture.

It is not by accident that ones education begins early. Medical expertise turned public knowledge, certifies that a young brain is like a sponge. Things learned at an early age are more likely to reside in a persons long-term memory. As a parallel, democratic ideals instilled since childhood via political socialization are bound to produce democracies through freedom-loving citizens. “Vox populi vox Dei! “

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.