Reflections on The Civic Culture and The Civic Culture Transformed by Sidney Verba

PPSby Sidney Verba

The Civic Culture Transformed is an interesting and important volume on political culture, focusing on postmaterialist values and beliefs, their origin, evolution, and relation to functioning democracy. It goes beyond the values associated with postmaterialism to cover the emergence of new methods of comparative research: crossnational surveys in a globalized world and methodological challenges associated with measurement of values and behaviors across nations and across time. It chronicles the development of an organizational structure for comparing survey results across nations and over time; it contributes to substantive political science research, especially comparative research, and, perhaps even more, to the processes of studying comparative politics. The Civic Culture Transformed is a collection of 12 chapters, by 16 authors from nine countries. The authors are scholars with long records of distinguished and varied research. Many symposia consist of essays on the author’s individual agenda. This is a symposium centered around the issues just mentioned. Ronald Inglehart—to whom the volume is dedicated—deserves credit for creating its cohesive intellectual base. Editors Russell Dalton and Christian Welzel deserve praise for putting a cohesive volume together. As the title suggests, this is a reevaluation of the original political culture model presented in The Civic Culture, in the light of recent analyses and empirical evidence, and presents a “transformation” of the earlier book. I thus begin with an unusually personal statement for a book review. I am the coauthor (with Gabriel Almond) of The Civic Culture, now asked to review a volume on the transformation of its substance 50 years after its publication. I wondered if I should take on the task. If I did, how would I go about it? Would I find that I have to criticize the current work in order to defend a book I coauthored a half century earlier? [Read more.]

Reflections on The Civic Culture and The Civic Culture Transformed by Sidney Verba / Perspectives on Politics / Volume 13 / Issue 04 / December 2015, pp 1084-1086