Monday, July 30, 2007

Political Culture Syllabus

Political Culture
Fall Semester 2007
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Course Description: This course will cover the subject of political culture and related concepts such as civic culture and civil society. Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba defined the political culture of a society as “the political system as internalized in cognitions, feelings, and evaluations of its population.” (Gabriel A. Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations (London: Sage Publishing, 1989), p. 13. That is how members of a society view the role of government and their relationship to it. Almond and Verba conducted their comparative analysis of political culture among five long established states in Europe and the Americas. These states were the US, Great Britain, West Germany, Italy and Mexico. This course will begin with Almond and Verba’s work and then proceed to examine the various social structures that support political culture. In particular it will examine the social networks created by national, ethnic and religious kinship on one hand and class and professional ties on the other. The vertical ties of nationality, ethnicity and religion often cut across the horizontal ties of class and occupation. The social matrix of these networks or civic culture forms the foundation of political culture. The course will examine civic and political culture in Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. It will cover not only independent states, but also national groups such as the Chechens, Crimean Tatars, and Palestinians. Despite lacking independent states all three of these nationalities have well developed civic and political cultures. The development of political culture among these peoples will be contrasted to those controlling fully independent states.

Requirements: The course will consist of assigned readings, lectures, discussion, short writing assignments, an oral report and a research paper. For each of the twelve weeks with reading assignments, students will be required to submit a 150 to 200 word summary of the material along with one question for class discussion. Students will also have to complete a 1500 to 2000 word research paper comparing and contrasting some important elements of civil and political society among two different nations. The paper is due the last week of class. In the two weeks prior to this deadline each student will be required to give a short oral presentation on the subject of their paper followed by a short question and answer session.


Twelve short papers – 36% (3% each)
Written research paper – 35% (Due last week of class)
Oral report on research – 15%
Class Participation – 14%

Class Schedule:

Week One: Introduction to the course and review of the syllabus.

Theory and General History

Week Two: Read “An Approach to Political Culture” (chapter one) in Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations (London: Sage Publishing, 1989), pp. 1-44.

Week Three: Read “The Peasants and Revolution” (chapter nine) in Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in Making the Modern World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), pp. 453-483.

Week Four: Read “Social Movements, Parties and Political Action” (chapter two) in Tom Bottomore, Political Sociology (London: Pluto Press, 1993), pp. 28-41.

Week Five: Read “Illiberal Democracy” (chapter three) in Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), pp. 89-118.


Week Six: Read Vladimir Tismaneanu and Michael Turner, “Understanding Post-Sovietism: Between Residual Leninism and Uncertain Pluralism” (chapter one) in Vladimir Tismananu, ed., Political Culture and Civil Society in Russia and the New States of Eurasia (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1995), pp. 3-22.

Week Seven: Read “Post-Soviet Nationalism” (chapter eleven) in Valery Tishkov, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in and after the Soviet Union (London: Sage, 1997), pp. 228-245.


Week Eight: Read “Rehabilitation” (chapter fourteen) in Moshe Gammer, The Lone Wolf and the Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russian Rule (London: Hurst & Company, 2006, pp. 185-198 and “An Ideology of Extremes” (chapter thirteen) in Valery Tishkov, Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004), pp. 196-209.

Crimean Tatars

Week Nine: Read “Houses and Homelands: The Reterritorialization of Crimean Tatars” (chapter seven) in Greta Lynn Uehling, Beyond Memory: The Crimean Tatars’ Deportation and Return (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 199-230.

Latin America

Week Ten: Read “Llama Fetuses, Latifundia, and La Blue Chip Numero Uno: ‘White’ Wealth in Latin America” (chapter two) in Amy Chua, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (NY: Doubleday, 2003), pp. 49-76.

The Middle East

Week Eleven: Read “State and Opposition in Islamic History” (chapter two) in John L. Esposito and John O. Voll, Islam and Democracy (NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 33-51.

Week Twelve: Read Amy Hawthorne, “Is Civil Society the Answer?” (chapter five) in Thomas Carothers and Marina Ottaway, eds., Uncharted Journey: Promoting Democracy in the Middle East (Washington D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005), pp. 81-108.


Week Thirteen: Read “Steering a Path under Occupation” (chapter nine) in Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), pp. 274-311.

Student Research

Week Fourteen: Student oral presentations.

Week Fifteen: Student oral presentations continued.

Week Sixteen: Written version of the research paper due and concluding remarks.

1 comment:

help said...

Very thorough syllabus, good job. Have you thought about a rubrick for your assignments. For example, if a test is worth 3% of the total grade, what exactly does the student need to accomplish to achieve 1%, 2%, or 3%? This almost always results in getting better work from the student.

Have a very safe trip there and email me when you do!