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

In: Comparative Sociology
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  • 1 Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Institut für Soziologie, Garystr. 55, 14195 Berlin

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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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