Explaining Policy Differences Using Political Culture

    Political scientist Daniel Elazar identified political culture as one reason that different states enact different policies to deal with similar problems.  In fact, he identifies three political subcultures which combine to form the American political culture which he differentiates from the German political culture, the French political culture, or the Mexican political culture.  These political subcultures are:




Political Culture in Texas

    According to Elazar, Texas's political culture is a combination of traditionalistic and individualistic elements.  The traditionalistic aspects of state politics are exemplified by the long history of one-party dominance in state politics, the low level of voter turnout, and social and economic conservatism.  The individualistic nature of state politics can be seen in the support for private business, opposition to big government, and faith in individual initiative.

Is Change Possible?

    These subcultures were derived from analyzing settlement and migration patterns that were largely completed by the early 20th Century.  Is it possible for migrations that occurred after the 1950s to have affected the political subculture of the states?  For example, what has been the impact of large numbers of northern retirees moving to a traditionalistic state like Florida?  Has the influx of northerners affected Texas politics or do the new immigrants adapt to the old political subculture?  We could better understand the impact of population growth on political culture by studying the politics of a area like Amarillo or specifically southwest Amarillo.

This discussion is drawn from the following sources:
    Gray, Virginia. 1999. "The Socioeconomic and Political Context of States." In Politics in the American States: A Comparative Analysis, 7th ed., Virginia Gray, Russell L. Hanson, and Herbert Jacob, eds. Washington, DC: CQ Press.
    Tannahill, Neal. 2000. Texas Government: Policy and Politics, 6th ed. New York: Longman.
    My brain.

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