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Culture and Identity in Comparative Political Analysis

Originally published in M. Lichbach and A. Zuckerman, Comparative Politics: Rationality, Culture, and Structure, 1997
  • Marc Howard Ross
Chapter

Abstract

Ross’s lengthy article represents a thorough and broad-ranging assessment of contemporary political culture theory. (See also Lane 1992.) After defining culture somewhat differently from either Almond or Elkins and Simeon (as a system of meaning and identity), Ross takes up four topics in turn. First, he outlines five distinctive contributions that political culture theories make to the study of comparative politics. Second, he isolates five central themes of contemporary political culture applications. Third and perhaps most interesting, he culls five important criticisms of political culture theories from the contemporary literature of comparative political analysis. Fourth, Ross shows how political culture theories might enrich studies focusing on topics beyond explicitly political subjects (e.g., government institutions) such as the economy. Like Almond as well as Elkins and Simeon, Ross concludes that political culture theory holds much promise for helping us to explain social life in a fashion consistent with the demands of empirical social science.

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