Although the term ‘political culture’ was used as early as the eighteenth century by Johann Gottfried von Herder (Barnard, 1969), the concept has occupied a place in the lexicon of political science for just under half a century (Almond, 1956). In that time it has been variously undervalued and oversold. Rational choice analysts, whether in political science or economics, tend to take a dim view of explanation in cultural terms, and sometimes those who enthusiastically invoke political culture provide fuel for their fire by attempting to explain too much by reference to culture. Thus, faced by certain authoritarian tendencies in contemporary Russia, one oversimple response has been to say that this ‘reversion to type’ is exactly what we should expect in the light of our understanding of Russian political culture. Such an interpretation (already, Alexander and Pavel Lukin argue in Chapter 2, involving oversimplification to the point of distortion of Russia’s political history) raises the question of how and why the Russian political system could have become substantially pluralist between 1987 and 1990 — a process which should have cast serious doubt on culturally determinist interpretations.1
KeywordsEurope Assimilation Arena Boris Stake
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- 3.The pluralisation of the Soviet political system and its consequences — both intended and unintended — constitute far too large a subject on which to digress in this chapter. My own interpretations are to be found, inter alia, in Archie Brown, The Gorbachev Factor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
- Brown, ‘Transnational Influences in the Transition from Communism’, Post-Soviet Affairs, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2000, pp. 177–200;Google Scholar
- and Brown, Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2006).Google Scholar