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Political Culture, Communication and Legitimacy

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1 Political Culture, Communication and Legitimacy

2 ‘ The strongest is never strong enough unless he turns rights into might and obedience into duty.’
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Social Contract (1862)

3 Key Issues How do individuals and groups acquire their political attitudes and values? How do regimes maintain legitimacy? What happens when legitimacy collapses? Why do revolutions occur?

4 Political culture: refer to a people’s psychological orientation, political culture being the ‘pattern of orientations’ to political objects such as parties, government, the constitution, expressed in beliefs, symbols and values. Political culture differs from public opinion in that it is fashioned out of long-term values rather than simply people’s reactions to specific policies and problems.

5 Civil culture or ideological hegemony?
Debate about the nature of political culture has often focused on the idea of civic culture, usually associated with the writings of Almond and Verba (1963 The Civic Culture,1980). Almond and Verba set out to identify the political culture that most effectively upheld democratic politics. They identified three general types of political culture: participant culture, subject culture and parochial culture.

6 A participant political culture is one in which citixens pay close attention to politics and regard popular participation as both desirable and effective. A subject political culture is characterized by more passivity amongst citizens, and the recognition that they have only a very limited capacity to influence government. A parochial political culture is marked by the absence of a sense of citizenship, with people identifying with their locality rather than the nation, and having neither the desire nor the ability to participate in politics.

7 Hegemony: in its simplest sense, the ascendancy or domination of one element of a system over others. As a noncoercive form of class rule, hegemony is typically understood as a cultural or ideological process that operates through the dissemination of bourgeois values and beliefs throughout society.

8 A very different view of the role and nature of political culture has been developed within the Marxist tradition. Marx acknowledged the power of ideas, values and beliefs. In Marx’s view, ideas and culture are past of a ‘superstructure’ that is conditioned or determined by the economic ‘base’, the mode of production.

9 These ideas have provided Marxism with two theories of culture
These ideas have provided Marxism with two theories of culture. The first suggests that culture is essentially class-specific: as members of a class share the same experiences and have a common economic position and interests, they are likely to have broadly similar ideas, values and beliefs. In Marx’s words, ‘it is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness’. Proletarian culture and ideas can therefore be expected to differ markedly from bourgeois ones.

10 The second theory of culture emphasized the degree to which the ideas of the ruling class pervade society and become the ‘ruling ideas’ of the age. Political culture or even civic culture is thus nothing more than bourgeois ideology. What is important about this view is that it sees culture, values and beliefs as a form of power. The function of ideology is to reconcile subordinate classes to their exploitation and oppression by propagating myths, delusions and falsehoods (false consciousness).

11 Mass media and political communication
It is widely accepted that, through a combination of social and technological changes, the media have become increasingly more powerful political actors and more deeply enmeshed in the political process. Three developments are particularly noteworthy. First, the impact of the so-called ‘primary’ agents of political socialisation, such as the family and social class, has declined. Whereas once people acquired, in late childhood and adolescence in particular, a framework of political sympathies and leanings that adult experience tended to modify or deepen, but seldom radically transformed, this has been weakened in modern society by greater social and geographical mobility and by the spread of individualist and consumerist values.

12 Second, the development of mass television audience and more recently the proliferation of channels and media output associated with the ‘new’ media, has massively increased the mass media’s penetration of people’s everyday lives. Third, the media have become more powerful economic actors. Not only have major media corporations become powerful global players, but also a series of mergers has tended to incorporate the formerly discrete domains of publishing, television, film, music, computers and telecommunications into a single massive ‘infotainment’ industry.

13 A series of rival theories offer contrasting views
of the media’s political impact. Pluralist model The dominant-ideology model The market model The elite-values model

14 Pluralism highlights diversity and multiplicity generally
Pluralism highlights diversity and multiplicity generally. The pluralist model of the mass media portrays the media as a ideological marketplace in which a wide range of political views are debated and discussed. While mot rejecting the idea that the media can affect political views and sympathies, this nevertheless suggests that their impact is essentially neutral in that they reflect the balance of forces within society at large. The pluralist view nevertheless portrays the media in strongly positive terms. In ensuring an ‘informed citizenry’, the mass media both enhance the quality of democracy and guarantee that government power is checked.

15 The dominant-ideology model portrays the mass media as a politically conservative force that is aligned to the interests of economic and social elites, and serves to promote compliance or political passivity amongst the masses. One of the most influential and sophisticated versions of the dominant-ideology model was developed by Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman in Manufacturing Consent (1994), in the form of the ‘propaganda model’. They identified five ‘filters’ through which news and political coverage are distorted by the structures of the media. These filters are as follows:

16 The business interests of owner companies
A sensitivity to the views and concerns of advertisers and sponsors The sourcing of news and information from ‘agents of power’ such as governments and business-backed think-tanks ‘flak’ or pressure applied to journalists including threats of legal action An unquestioning belief in the benefits of market competition and consumer capitalism

17 The elite-values model shifts attention away from the ownership of media corporations to the mechanism through which media output is controlled. This view suggests that editors, journalists and broadcasters enjoy significant professional independence, and that even the most interventionist of media moguls is able only to set a broad political agenda but not to control day-to-day editorial decision-making, the media’s political bias therefore reflects the values of groups that are disproportionally represented amongst its senior professionals.

18 The market model of the mass media differs from the other models in that it dispenses with the idea of media bias: it holds that newspapers and television reflect, rather than shape, the views of the general public. This occurs because, regardless of the personal views of media owners and senior professionals, private media outlets are first and foremost business concerned with profit maximization and thus with extending market share. The media therefore give people ‘what they want’, and cannot afford to alienate existing or potential viewers or readers by presenting political viewpoints with which they may disagree.

19 Legitimacy and political stability
Legitimacy: the term broadly means rightfulness (合理性). Legitimacy confers on an order or command an authoritative or binding character, thus transforming power into authority. It differs from legality in that the latter does not necessarily guarantee that a government is respected or that its citizens acknowledge a duty of obedience.

20 Legitimizing power Weber constructed three conceptual models to make sense of the highly complex nature of political rule. Traditional (傳統型) authority Charismatic (魅力型) authority Legal-rational (合法-理性型)authority Each of these is characterized by a particular source of political legitimacy and this different reasons that people may have for obeying a regime.

21 Weber’s first type of political legitimacy is based on long-established customs and traditions. In effect, traditional authority is regarded as legitimate because it has ‘always existed’: it has been sanctified by history because earlier generations had accepted it. Typically, it operates according to a body of concrete rules: that is, fixed and unquestioned customs that do not need to be justified because they reflect the way things have always been.

22 The most obvious examples of traditional authority are found amongst tribes or small groups in the form of patriarchalism(家父長制) and gerontocracy (老人政治). Traditional authority is closely linked to hereditary systems of power and privilege, as reflected, e.g., in the survival of dynastic rule in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Morocco.

23 Weber’s second form of legitimate domination is charismatic authority: that is, on his or her ‘charisma’. Owing nothing to a person’s status, social position or office, charismatic authority operates entirely through the capacity of a leader to make a direct and personal appeal to followers as a kind of hero or saint.

24 Although modern political leaders such as de Gaulle, Kennedy, and Thatcher undoubtedly extended their authority through their personal qualities and capacity to inspire loyalty, this did not amount to charismatic legitimacy, because their authority was essentially based on the formal powers of the offices they held. Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini, Fidel Castro and Colonel Gaddafi are more appropriate examples.

25 Weber’s third type of political legitimacy, legal-rational authority, links authority to a clearly and legally defined set of rules. In Weber’s view, legal-rational authority is the typical form of authority operating in most modern states. The power of a president, prime minister or government official is determined in the final analysis by formal, constitutional rules, which constrain or limit what an office holder is able to do.

26 The advantage of this form of authority over both traditional and charismatic authority is that, as it is attached to an office rather than a person, it is far less likely to be abused or to give rise to injustice. Legal-rational authority therefore maintains limited government and, in addition, promotes efficiency through a rational division of labour. However, Weber recognised a darker side to this type of political legitimacy. The price of greater efficiency would be a more depersonalized and inhuman social environment typified by the relentless spread of bureaucratic forms of organisations.

27 Legitimation crises In Legitimation Crisis (1973) Habermas identified a series of ‘crisis tendencies’ within capitalist societies that make it difficult for them to maintain political stability through consent alone. At the heart of this tension lie contradictions and conflicts between the logic of capitalist accumulation on the one hand, and the popular pressures that democratic politics unleashes on the other.

28 From this perspective, capitalist economies are seen to be bent on remorseless expansion, dictated by the pursuit of profit. However, the extension of political and social rights in an attempt to build legitimacy within such systems has stimulated countervailing pressures. The democratic process has led to escalating demands for social welfare as well as for increased popular participation and social equality. The resulting expansion of the state’s responsibilities into economic and social life, and the inexorable rise of taxation and public spending, nevertheless constraint capitalist accumulation by restricting profit levels and discouraging enterprise.

29 In Habemas’s view, capitalist democracies cannot permanently satisfy both popular demand for social security and welfare rights and the requirements of a market economy based on private profit. Forced either to resist popular pressures or to risk economic collapse, such societies would find it increasingly difficult, and eventually impossible, to maintain legitimacy.

30 Why do revolutions occur?
Revolutions are popular uprising that consist of extra-legal mass action aimed at changing the political system. Revolutions have been explained in a variety of ways. They have been portrayed as a symptom of a supposedly deeper social transformation, as a sign of disequilibrium in the political system, as a consequence of the thwarting of rising expectations, and as a result of the declining effectiveness of the state.

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