Greetings and all that jazz! This is typically the most exciting part of the course, since it’s a blank slate or potential for experience. We have to start somewhere, though, and I choose the rich pool of culture, that ispolitical culture. Thus the first assignment is more of an orientation, or prerequisite to the study of state and local government. One of the most enduring truths about this overall subject is “all politics is local” (the uniquely qualified late House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill)
I have posted in Block 1 (on the homepage) a reading/reference about political culture. I always tell my 2306 students that political culture in a very local thing, like slang (vernacular) is to language. In a state a big and diverse as Texas, you need a good grasp of what has influenced and shaped political culture here to begin a legitimate understanding of state politics and the government itself. Big Note: when I say “good grasp” I’m not implying that you should involve opinion or that you reject or espouse the core ideas of the various (and competing) subcultures. You all probably have a formed view (by a piecemeal process called political socialization) already. For the purpose of this core degree requirement, we’re just navigating the system to understand it as such.
Whew, glad to get that out of the way. In summary, THINK OF POLITICAL CULTURE this way:
step 1: culture = why/how we do things here: food, music, dress, tradition, family norms, etc.
step 2: political culture = how we “do political things” here: government structure, priorities in law & policy, election styles, etc.
step 3: differences, or clash of political culture – based on competing priorities (public goods vs. private goods OR new ways vs. old ways) Culture explains WHY residents of a particular place prefer, want or reject policies put forth by government, or the manner in which government behaves.
Next, think SUBCULTURES—the component parts of the culture– often referred to as 1. traditionalistic, 2. individualistic, 3. moralistic….These are PATTERNS within the political culture of Texas–all three are visible in certain issues, decisions, elections, etc.
FOR ASSIGNMENT: Please click on “political culture week 1” posted in Block 1. Read over the excerpt and pp. 596-598 in Chapter 19 and then submit a comparative summary of the 3 cultures. This is very informal, you can word (spelling is important though) and structure your response as you like. Include the following:
- What is the core idea/premise of each subculture?
- How do they differ about bureaucracy and political parties/ideology
- Which is each subculture focused on, private society, or the public community?