On the Assessment of ‘Civilizations’ in Political Culture Research. Criticism and Alternative

in Comparative Sociology
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Since Huntington proclaimed the political relevance of ‘civilizations’, the concept has been popular in political culture research. However, it lacks precision and is used inconsistently in interpreting global cultural (dis)similarities. This article aims to illustrate how these flaws can be avoided. First, the broad rubric of civilization is specified and differentiated from political culture. Then, the (dis)similarities of 39 countries in terms of political culture are visualized in a two-dimensional space using data from the World Values Survey (2005–08). The description of the countries’ configuration reveals a specific ‘liberal-democratic culture area’ and the configuration’s additional visual interpretation with both the civilization rubric and two of its core elements is more informative than the use of ‘civilization’ alone.

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Figures
  • View in gallery
    Inglehart’s and Welzel’s causal model – differentiated.

    source: author’s presentation based on inglehart and welzel 2005.

  • View in gallery
    Map of 39 countries’ (dis)similarities in terms of political culture.

    source: wvs 2005–08; own calculations.

  • View in gallery
    Additional interpretation with ‘ideological legacy’.

    source: wvs 5; author’s presentation; see figure a2 (appendix) for country classification.

  • View in gallery
    Additional interpretation with ‘predominant religion’.

    source: wvs 5; author’s presentation; see figure a2 (appendix) for country classification.

  • View in gallery
    Additional interpretation with ‘civilization’.

    source: wvs 5; author’s presentation; see figure a2 (appendix) for country classification.

  • View in gallery
    Cultural map of the world by Inglehart and Welzel.

    source: inglehart 2006: 122 (identical with inglehart and welzel 2005: 63).

  • View in gallery
    Cultural map of the world by Schwartz.

    source: schwartz 2006: 156.

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