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Before Norms

Institutions and Civic Culture

Robert W. Jackman and Ross A. Miller

Publication Year: 2004

The potato famines of the nineteenth century were long attributed to Irish indolence. The Stalinist system was blamed on a Russian proclivity for autocracy. Muslim men have been accused of an inclination to terrorism. Is political behavior really the result of cultural upbringing, or does the vast range of human political action stem more from institutional and structural constraints? This important new book carefully examines the role of institutions and civic culture in the establishment of political norms. Jackman and Miller methodically refute the Weberian cultural theory of politics and build in its place a persuasive case for the ways in which institutions shape the political behavior of ordinary citizens. Their rigorous examination of grassroots electoral participation reveals no evidence for even a residual effect of cultural values on political behavior, but instead provides consistent support for the institutional view. Before Norms speaks to urgent debates among political scientists and sociologists over the origins of individual political behavior. Robert W. Jackman is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis. Ross A. Miller is Associate Professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. ix

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

List of Figures

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pp. xiii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xviii

Living conditions for most people in nineteenth-century Ireland were miserable. Was this the result of a flawed, indolent national character, or did Irish poverty have other sources? Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the pace of democratization has been much slower than many had anticipated. Does this...

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1. The Issues

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pp. 1-30

Are we prisoners of our distinctive pasts, governed by customs and habits that evolve, if they do so at all, at a glacial pace over several generations? Such is the broad assertion of those who propose that cultural differences are at the heart of the crucial variations in political behavior that we so often observe...

Part One. Cultural and Social Capital Approaches

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2. The Protestant Ethic Thesis

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pp. 33-58

With their shared emphasis on the key causal role of social and political values, analyses couched in terms of political culture have a common origin in Weber’s book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ([1905] 1958a). Sometimes, the link...

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3. Civic Virtue in Italy and the United States

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pp. 59-97

We turn now to more recent claims advanced on behalf of political culture. This chapter centers on analyses of civic-mindedness in Italy and the United States carried out by Robert Putnam, while in chapter 4 we broaden our focus to include a...

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4. Civic Virtue, Growth, and Democratization

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pp. 98-134

We turn now to a different setting for further empirical evaluation of the cultural argument. Where chapter 3 addressed patterns within each of two particular national contexts, our attention now shifts to national-level variations across a broader...

Part Two. The Institutional Alternative

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5. Institutions and Voter Turnout

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pp. 137-162

Political participation manifests itself in many ways. Voting, signing petitions, working in political campaigns, and attending political rallies are some of the more widely discussed forms (see, e.g.,Verba, Nie, and Kim 1978; Dalton 2002). Even so, voting...

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6. Institutions and Support for Parties of the Extreme Right (with Karin Volpert)

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pp. 163-187

The revival of extreme right-wing parties in a variety of West European democracies during the 1980s caught many politicians and opinion leaders off guard. It also contradicted well-known scholarly claims about the end of ideology, the advent of postindustrial...

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7. Culture, Institutions, and Political Behavior

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pp. 188-200

Throughout this book we have focused on the fundamental contrast between a cultural reading of political behavior and one that casts political behavior as optimizing within institutional constraints. Many are attracted to a cultural reading on the grounds that it emphasizes the role of ideas in political life. This idealism is...


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pp. 201-223


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pp. 225-244

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024063
E-ISBN-10: 047202406X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472030941
Print-ISBN-10: 0472030949

Page Count: 262
Illustrations: 8 drawings, 30 tables
Publication Year: 2004