The following can be described as the key determinants or factors of Political Culture:
1. The Historical Factor:
History plays an important role in the making and evolution of Political Culture. Historical events always influence the shaping of political culture in a big way. French political culture bears a deep impact on the French Revolution and the “Declaration of Rights of Man and of Citizen.” Likewise, the American Declaration of Independence, the War of Independence and the Civil War of mid-19th century exercised a big influence upon the American Political Culture.
In the case of British Political Culture, the signing of the Magna Carta 1215, Petition of Rights 1628, the 17th century struggle between the King and the Parliament over the issue of supremacy, the Glorious Revolution of 1688, etc., have all played a deterministic role. Soviet Political Culture (1917-1991) was determined by the Socialist Revolution of 1917. The Indian Political Culture bears the influence of events of the freedom struggle and the contact with western civilisation and culture. As such, the Political Culture of each society is greatly influenced by the historical events.
2. Political Continuity or Discontinuity:
The continuity or discontinuity of a political system determines the nature of its political culture. Continuity of political process helps the evolution of a participant political culture and secures the linkage between the past and the present.
“The importance of political continuity in a country like Britain,” writes A.R. Ball “lies in the fact that their older values have been allowed to merge with modern attitudes undisturbed by violent internal strife or domination by foreign power.”
British Monarchy stands merged with Democracy. Conservatism stands supplemented by liberalism. In the U.S.A., too, the continuity of political tradition has helped the evolution of a developed and participant political culture.
Pakistan’s stunts with democracy between two long periods of military dictatorships have hindered the process of development of a uniform and clear political culture. People of Pakistan struggle for democracy while living under a military dictatorship but fail to manage the political system when it becomes democratic. As against this, continuity of political development in a uniform democratic way is gradually helping India to develop a democratic political culture.
Geography plays a big role in determining the political culture of the society. Favourable location has helped Britain to meet successfully foreign invasions. Small size has helped Britain to maintain the continuity of its political traditions. The vast size and diversities have helped the Americans to accept the values of equality and freedom for all.
Geography did play a role in the spread of socialism to Eastern European countries. The Swiss political culture clearly reflects the impact of the geographical features of Switzerland. Acceptance of’ Neutrality’ as a national value has been secured, and it stands determined by the geographical location of Switzerland as a small country surrounded by four big neighbours.
4. Socio-Economic Factors:
Socio-economic factors always play a deterministic role in laying down the foundations of the political culture and in securing a change in the orientations of the people towards political objects and actions. Levels of poverty, employment, urbanisation, literacy, etc., play a leading role in shaping the political culture of a society.
A.R. Ball discusses in detail the role of socio-economic factors as the determinants of political culture. He observes, “A predominantly urban industrialised society is a more complex society, putting a premium on rapid communications. Educational standards are higher, groups proliferate, and participation in the decision-making process is, by necessity, wider. Rural societies are not geared to change and innovation, and states with a predominantly peasant population are more conservative. ”
In this age of science and technology, the development of agriculture and industry always influences the political culture. The developments in the field of science and technology have their impact on the process of transportation and communication, migrations and immigrations, imports and exports, revolutions and wars.
All these factors, in turn, lead to changes in political values and beliefs of the people. Increasing urbanisation and the rise of big metropolis cities always lead to a mixing of the peoples with different values and orientations. These mixtures always play a big role in introducing changes in the political culture.
5. Ethnic Factor:
The existence of ethnic differences and ethnic conflicts among several ethnic groups or minorities which live in the society always determine the nature of political culture. Ethnic pluralism as manifested in linguistic, cultural, religious and social diversities plays a deterministic role in the evolution of the political culture and the regional sub-political cultures. Ethnic differences and conflicts give rise to the emergence of strong sub-political cultures within the national political culture.
6. Ideological Factor:
The concept of political culture refers to orientations – cognitive, affective and evaluative, towards political objects and actions. These orientations are greatly influenced by the ideology or ideologies that are popular with the people.
As a set of principles offering an explanation of a given phenomenon or even life in society, an ideology plays an important role in forming and changing people’s values, commitments and orientations.
It influences the cognitive, affective and evaluative orientations of the people towards political objects and actions. Ideology of Marxism determined the nature of political cultures of several states which later on adopted socialism as the value.
Influence of ideology of Liberalism has now been instrumental in changing the orientations of the people of socialist states towards their political systems. Indian Political Culture bears the impact of the ideology of Liberal Democratic Socialism.
All these factors are, in the main, the determinants of political culture. Together these provide foundations to political culture of a society. Every study of the Political Culture must involve a study of all these determinants.