Is Culture an Impediment to Political Development?

Abb, Pascal, and Alan Hao Yang. “The Impact of Democratization, Political Culture, and Diplomatic Isolation on Think-Tank Development in Taiwan.” Pacific Affairs, vol. 91, no. 1, 2018, pp. 73–94., DOI:

“Taiwan followed up on its economic liberalization with a gradual retreat of its authoritarian one-party state in the late 1980s, resulting in free elections at all levels of government by 1996 and, today, a consolidated democracy that its citizens enthusiastically participate in” (Pascal and Yang).

Taiwan found a way to encourage its citizens to be politically involved in the election of government officials.

This is what development looks like. Development may look different in other parts of the world and is often influenced by culture and by popularity among the population. “With a population of twenty-three million people and the world’s twenty-second largest economy, Taiwan is today the most significant de facto state lacking widespread diplomatic recognition, which has created a corresponding demand for unofficial channels to manage its international relation” (Pascal and Yang). As we can see development in Taiwan was made in the country seems and Taiwan has proven to be quite self-sufficient. The development of a country must be done on its own terms or it’s not development. When development is made by familiar trustworthy leaders the population tends to react by being tolerant, committed, and more likely to participate. The enforcement of democracy in unfamiliar governments will not produce the same outcome simply because the ideals are unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable to the culture of the people.

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Barnard, F. M. “Culture and Political Development: Herder’s Suggestive Insights.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 63, no. 2, 1969, pp. 379–397. JSTOR, Accessed 16 Apr. 2020.

“Political symbols and practices are so intimately intertwined with the larger array of symbols and practices in a culture that it is necessary to extend the scope of the political investigation to include the fundamental features of the cultural setting” (Herder 379). It is reasonable to believe that culture influences politics and political development and when discussing development we must also include the culture of the developing state to have an all-around understanding of the development it has made. For example, a democracy in America will hold up differently than democracy in China, simply because our culture is different and culture does intertwine with our political practices. “As Lucian Pye rightly observes, ‘the seemingly easy formula of the distinction between technology and culture cannot satisfactorily resolve the profound problems of identity which are its origins’ More often than not, therefore, chaos and bewilderment rather than a new social and political order have followed attempts to fuse modern scientific, technological and administrative practices with basic components of indigenous cultures” (Herder 381). Those two components include the misconceptions of the notion of tradition and “an erroneous belief that spiritual elements of culture are easily separable from material elements” (381). To say the least, identity is the origin of culture. By ignoring the idea that identity is not only comforting in politics but uniting that already is failed development. We must understand every person’s specific and unique development to cater to every part of political development. Politics are basically (in my own words) concerns of people alike that must be addressed legally so that every group’s concerns are validated and protected. Such as human rights and other concerns which tend to be influenced by culture. Without addressing these common concerns our culture is invalidated and our identity is not protected.

Fairbairn-Dunlop, Peggy. “Gender, Culture and Sustainable Development—the Pacific Way.” Culture and Sustainable Development in the Pacific, edited by Antony Hooper, ANU Press, 2005, pp. 62–75. JSTOR, Accessed 23 Apr. 2020.

In the change from traditional to modern economic systems women have been adversely affected. Often women’s vulnerability in times of rapid change is usually ignored. However, in this book, we dive deep into how feminist women theorists translate the transformation and how women of the pacific have been personally affected. Western beliefs typically sexualize everything and anything feminine. For a culture that is particularly expressive and often very liberating for the feminine body, western ideals see this as inferior. In the pacific it is common for men to show off more chest and legs than in the western world and for women, it is more common to wear clothing that would be seemingly “provocative” to those in the western world. However, culture is never provocative. I believe it is ignorant to assume anything cultural is provocative. The difference in culture and the traditional attire could have to do with many factors including the climate of the region. However, pacific women are often assumed promiscuous and inferior because according to western ideals when you show skin all you have to offer as a woman is your sexuality. Pacific women and their customary ways are natural and comfortable for them and are anything but detrimental to their development without the customary ways they would have been disadvantaged in the developmental process. Thus we must be open-minded when pursuing development in cultural regions such as the pacific because the development of women and other (not usually of concern) groups is often not taken into consideration which does not lead to development but leads to the erasing of a culture and to the group being adversely affected. I included this study because I believe women are a political group and women’s development is necessary for political development.

Hart, G. (2002). Geography and development: Development/s beyond neoliberalism? power, culture, political economy. Progress in Human Geography, 26(6), 812-822. doi:

“The clash consists of a series of rearguard actions from societies whose traditional existence is indeed threatened by modernization, and that time and resources are on the side of western modernity, capitalism, and liberal democracy” (Fukuyama 812). The introduction opens up with the Fukuyama/Huntington debate where the clash of civilizations (the fault between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future) explains that cultural systems such as Islam generally reject Western modernity and that this global idea of development is not suitable or tolerated by their culture thus will never be effective in the development of their country without being a threat to their traditional existence. Also, this fault between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future as in when countries are forced to change for the benefit of others (or for whatever reason western society is so persistent) tension will arise and more than likely a war or great debate will arise over the intolerance these cultures received when forced into western ideals, modernity, liberal democracy, and capitalism. These countries are more than capable of development without the sacrifice of their culture and the help of western society and it is offensive (to say the least) to assume these countries are not developed or on the road to developing to their standard.

Kaarsholm, Preben. “The Ethnicisation of Politics and the Politicisation of Ethnicity: Culture and Political Development in South Africa.” European Journal of Development Research, vol. 6, no. 2, Dec. 1994, p. 33. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09578819408426610.

Political regimes have been known to use substantial and successful strategies of cultural separation to acquire power and control over their communities. People have sought refuge in cultural identification to defend themselves against the unfair sides and reality of modernity rather than enjoying its liberating opportunities. By removing people from the comfort of their own home (in this case culture) people are less likely to unite and rebel when they disagree with the government making them vulnerable, easy to control, and easily manipulated. Development is defined in western beliefs and ideals and unfamiliar cultures, these western beliefs, and ideals of development have proven to not necessarily further help develop these countries but cause their people to seek refuge in modes of cultural identification and differentiation. However liberating development may be, it may not necessarily fit under the category of development because it’s not only forced but it’s also not comfortable or wanted. “The ethnic awakening and demand for self-determination in Eastern Europe have been the political practice in South Africa for the past four decades. But is now being betrayed [by a democratic dispensation where numbers necessarily will decide]… South Africa has a deeply divided population – along racial, ethnic, cultural, language, and religious lines… to force together such largely disparate people, cultures, and races will amount to a form of tyranny. The very opposite of democratic freedom… [instead we must promote] the development of separate freedoms for the various peoples, ethnic groups, in their territories, or homelands”(Kaarsholm 35). Tyranny as in this whole concept is oppressive. I have probably said this a million times but forced development is not development it is simply colonization. A loss of culture, sense of self, sense of control, sense of ethnicity, history, customs, background… the loss of self that is the foundation of colonization. Political development is the protection of culture and identity.

Pervez, Muhammad Shoaib. “Political Culture, Political Science and Identity Politics: An Uneasy Alliance. By Howard J. Wiarda.” International Affairs, vol. 92, no. 5, Sept. 2016, pp. 1261–1262. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/1468-2346.12720.

Political behavior is not only solely dependent on cultural factors but maybe particularly explained by culture and by rationality. There is a necessity to create a culture-rational connection to understand the diversity of the political phenomena around us. Just as I already reviewed it may be hard and even nearly impossible to unite a population of people and practice politics without some sort of cultural understanding and connection. Such diversity may make it hard to agree on political theories and ideas such as women’s rights, human rights, Education, etc. “The Values, the belief systems and the behavior of the peoples in all these political systems… are political culture variables” (Pervez 16). Without common values, belief systems, and behaviors it is hard and quite literally nearly impossible to unite such a diverse group because one person’s values may go against another person’s values and political laws will do unfair justice for some, and for others, it will work in their advantage. Culture has been a part of ancient political theories to postmodernist theories. All political philosophers including Hobbes, Montesquieu, Plato, and Aristotle have interpreted political behavior through cultural variables. Culture impedes Political development. This is obvious when we look through the culture of American politics and its adapted political philosophy. The political philosophy adapted by American politics influenced everything from the separation of powers to women’s rights to slavery all by reinforcing old cultural ideologies.

Von Beyme K. (2014) Institutions and Political Culture in Post-Soviet Russia. In: On Political Culture, Cultural Policy, Art and Politics. SpringerBriefs on Pioneers in Science and Practice, vol 15. Springer, Cham

Political culture took time to be acknowledged by the Soviet Scholars. However, when Soviet Scholars began to analyze political culture they became extremely uneasy over the ideas of Western norms. Russia’s challenges are mainly emotional and deeply rooted in different political cultures. Many countries suffer from being incapable of political development because there’s a variety and huge diversity among the population making it impossible to cater to everyone’s political goals and personal development. Russia attempted to even re-identify and unite by creating a mandatory course called “kul’turologia” or culturology (in English) for all students to complete. The old economy focused on Marxism-Leninism ideologies and had been replaced with Culture-centralism. Both Ideologies prioritized the ideals of wholism and totalism. Also, it helped identify the population as a whole it sort of served as citizen training. Russia rejected western mass culture and eurocentric ideas of political development. This is actually quite shocking since the western world holds the title of being the world’s economic powerhouse and the blueprint for many and most countries’ political developments. This goes to show that political development is not a one size fits all and due to many different factors, some practices and concerns might matter more than others in a different society changing the whole perspective and goal of political development.

Walton, Hanes, et al. American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom, Taylor & Francis Group, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central,

The United States offers a unique and diverse population. Stemming from African Americans, Native Americans, Caucasian Americans, Mexican Americans, etc, To say the least, there is no homogeneous political culture since there are so many diverse cultures American politics has to offer. Americans tend to share common core values such as individualism, constitutionalism, democracy,  and patriotism. However, it is evident, various groups in the country may sit on different demographics due to their different upbringings, values, and ideals. Demographics such as race, ethnicity, religion, culture, sex and much more play roles in their thier political stance this is regarded as political subcultures. African Americans are often seen as the most distinctive political group and culture since they are seen as one of the most oppressed and historically progressive groups compared to other groups such as Caucasian Americans. Caucasian Americans are noted as oppressive, especially the African American population. America was built by Europeans for Europeans and our constitution was made by white men for white men. African Americans and Caucasian Americans have developed in many different ways due to the advantages Caucasian Americans had over the Dis-advantagesDisadvantages African Americans had. Such as slavery. The African American community has also dealt with other forms of oppression. Such as The Jim Crow Laws that enforced racial segregation. Racial segregation is a huge deal because by enforcing racial segregation African Americans were relocated to less desirable locations and were also refused the quality education Caucasian Amerireceivedcans recieved. Due to the op,pression African Americans have experienced the African American community developed a different political stance than their Caucasian American peers with different priorities. Proving that culture impedesan political development.

WILSON, THOMAS D. The Ashley Cooper Plan: The Founding of Carolina and the Origins of Southern Political Culture. University of North Carolina Press, 2016. JSTOR, Accessed 24 Apr. 2020.

Anthony Ashley Cooper was a English Visionary who founded the Province of Carolina and built a colony governed by a model constitution. Carolina was founded on the core beliefs of a balanced government, Societal harmony, sustainable prosperity, impartial justice, and religious tolerance. Carolina was created to uphold historically rooted social ideals and uniquely English principles of government creating one of the most detailed constitutions ever written with 120 articles. The United States is composed of 3 primary political cultures. The primary Political cultures are the assumption that the political culture and the motions of the present time can be traced back to its origin ten generations earlier. Ashley Cooper is credited with influencing America’s Political culture by maintaining Ashley Cooper’s agrarian plan for large-scale plantations owned by white men or by the (elite class) and introducing the slaves to the colony to bring in production of cash crops. As we can see, America’s Political development is heavily influenced by English culture and customs. Much of America’s Political Philosophy has been influenced by mainstream European political philosophy such as Immanuel Kant and his philosophy of Separation Of Powers. Separation of powers has become a ne global political exercise but has remained extremely dominant in America. A practice that was introduced to us by the English who is the foundation of not only our political development but our cultural development.

Yang Zhong, Political Culture and Participation in Rural China, RouteledgeRoutledge 2013, O’Reilly Media, Inc,

The Chinese lower class has historically favored conservative and political forceslack. Their views are often considered ill-informed and lacking the necessary cognitive knowledge about political events and public affairs. This is somewhat relatable to how America views their rural class. In America, the rural class tends to favor republican politics and is often looked at as ignorant. The lower class in America tends to favor democratic liberal politics on the other hand and are often ill-informed as well. I believe the reason these classes lack knowledge of politics in their country is tha they’re not prioritized in politics, they’re not involved, typically receive less education due to financial instability or other reasons, and because they’re not pursued in politics. This poverty culture and Presidentaffects the way the impoverished community is involved in their politics. Politicians tend to favor specific demographics for votes. Many politicians strive to be acknowledged by the poor by promising/sponsoring programs that benefit them. This is very common in politics. For example, president Trump pursued the business culture vote during his running for president while Presidentpresident Obama pursued the colored community leading to massive support from those two communities for both presidents. Part of political culture includes social classes. Levels of political participation vary and are significantly impacted by factors such as age, gender, income, political status, Political efficacy, and life satisfaction. Much like in thatAmerica, discriminatory factors tend to categorize people and influence who they favor in politics. Women voters tend to favor the democratic party because democratic politicians prioritize women’s rights and concerns. People of color tend to favor the democratic party for reasons such as prioritizing civil liberties and rights and rejecting strict immigration laws. Their culture all affects their priorities and their priorities affect politics and politics affect development. It’s a huge intertwining cycle.

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Is Culture an Impediment to Political Development?. (2022, May 13). Retrieved from

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