Political culture is defined as the attitudes, sentiments, beliefs, ideas and norms that guide the behaviour of the people in a political system.
Political culture can also be defined as a culture that embraces such things as the history of the political system adopted through people’s reactions to election, method of electing their representatives, etc. While the advanced nations like U.S.A., U.S.S.R., U.K., etc. have established political cultures, those of the developing nations like Nigeria, India, Brazil, etc. are in their rudimentary levels.
Components Of Political Culture
- Evaluative orientation: This refers to the extent to which the people can evaluate or critically assess the functioning of their political system. With such evaluation, the people are able to assess the individuals that steer and control the affairs of the state and the efficiency and effectiveness of their policies.
- Cognitive orientation: This concerns the belief and the knowledge that people have with regard to the political system. That is, how the people understand and know their political system as well as their beliefs or awareness about the government and the roles of the government officials.
- Affective orientation: This concerns the feelings of the people towards the political system. It can also refer to how the people feel about the performance of their government, whether the people are proud of the activities of their government and political institutions, the loyalty of the people to the government and to its leaders and to the nation, etc.
Factors that Determine Political Culture
- Historical development: The course of historical development in a particular society determines the attitudes, values and beliefs in politics, for example, various revolutions in France in the 18th century influenced the country’s politics in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Socio-economic structure: Urban and industrialized societies have higher educational standards, thus, people there participate in the decision making process than in the rural societies which are rather conservative.
- Different ethnicity: The belief system of each tribe has a major impact on the people’s political culture, thus bringing about the differences of political culture. For example, ethnic differences have for long affected political attitudes in Nigeria.
- Political instability: Constant instability in a political system brings about disaffection by the populace, consequently it affects the political values and attitudes in politics.
- The impact of colonialism: European colonial legacy has tremendous influence on new states in Africa, Latin America and Asia. To a large extent, it determines their political culture. For example, Nigeria inherited its federal structure and the political beliefs, values and attitudes from Britain.