How Are Political Culture And Political Ideology Different?

Heard about them but don’t know how political culture and ideology are different from one another? Read on and educate yourself.

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Just like everything else, the definitions of political ideologies and political culture and their relevance are also subject to change. A few decades before they meant something else and they will be described as something else a few decades after. Let's discuss how are Political Culture and Political Ideology different from each other. 

What is Political Culture?

As the term itself indicates, political culture is related to the community. In political science, political culture is described as a set of common views and collective judgments of a population about the political system practiced there. The fact to notice is that political culture is not related to the attitudes of the common people towards a particular member of the political system, such as a president or prime minister. On the contrary, it denotes the collective views of the people about the political system as a whole and their faith in that system.

American political scientist Lucian Pye’s definition describes the political culture properly. He says that political culture is the composite of basic values, feelings, and knowledge that underlie the political process. Hence, the building blocks of political culture are the beliefs, opinions, and emotions of the citizens toward their form of government.

In simpler words, political culture is related to the community—for example, a country, region, class, or party. While most studies of political culture concentrated on national cultures, some studies focused on territorially defined units at the subnational level, such as the political cultures of American states, Canadian provinces, or Italian regions. Other studies analyzed the cultural attributes of social groups such as the political elite, the working class, and the like.


What Is Political Ideology

The coherent set of thoughts and views about politics and the legitimacy and role of the government is known as a political ideology. It remains consistent for a wide range of issues and this is the hallmark characteristic of political ideology. However, in America, the concept of political ideology is questionable. This is because of the often contradictory variables that shape up the public opinion and political values. The only exceptions, that maintain their political ideologies without getting influenced by the trends are the political activists or the activists in the groups that embrace specific causes.

Unlike the rest of the world, Americans seem to have no interest in political ideologies. They are neither the staunch followers of Communism (extreme left) nor are they show any firm inclination towards fascism, the extreme right. American politics has always remained like a game of tug of war between liberals and conservatives.


Liberalism is the political ideology that believes in protecting and enhancing individual freedom and thinks the government should be less powerful. According to this political ideology, the central problem of politics is that it makes the government the center of power and makes rules and regulations for the individual to make him secondary in this system. Liberals, on the contrary, believe that the government’s only essential role is to protect individuals and individual freedom from being harmed by others. Other than that there is no such need for government as the government itself poses a threat to freedom and independence.

The classic liberalism in America was based on the doctrine of Laissez-Faire, which holds that the government should be small with very limited powers. It should hold no authority over the normal American life that includes the economy, community life, and individual morality. However, the definition of liberalism is quite different today. Liberals nowadays believe in the importance of the government and look at it as the regulator or moderator in the public interest. Though the liberals favor Government interference in the economy of the country they still On the other hand, they still oppose government interference in matters of personal independence.



As the term suggests, moderate is a political ideology that opposes radical or extreme views, especially if they are related to politics and religion. A moderate never supports extreme views or very extreme social changes. America is considered as the country of moderates as most of the Americans support the political ideology of moderates. This makes it difficult for American politicians to keep themselves restricted to the political ideologies of liberalism or conservatism. We see most of the politicians project themselves as fiscal conservatives but adopt liberal positions when it comes to social issues. While some of them adopt the populist line, by supporting the necessity of active governmental interference and control in both economic and cultural spheres.


Conservatism is a political ideology that promotes the traditional social institutions for the development of culture and civilization. Conservatives are against government interference in the economy and in the federal system. They believe that the government should have limited powers. That is the reason why they always call for lower taxes and spending less on social programs. However, conservatives also seek the government’s support to promote their moral agenda. Liberals, conservatives and moderates hold opposing positions on crime too. Liberals connect the crime with the underlying socioeconomic causes while the conservatives argue on the need for the punishment as they believe that punishment brings no change in a criminal and it has deterrent effects instead.

How Are Political Ideology And Political Culture Different?

As discussed above, political culture is the collective norms and beliefs of citizens and government and how both the entities relate to each other. In the United States of America, the political culture consists of shared belief in democracy, individual liberty, human rights, unbiased justice, and open markets or capitalism.

Unlike political culture, political ideology is the individual belief set. It is a logical and integrated set of views about politics and government. The two most common political ideologies in the U.S. are liberalism and conservatism.

Just like everything else, the definitions of political ideologies and political culture and their relevance are also subject to change. A few decades before they meant something else and they will be described as something else a few decades after.

To know more about political ideologies, please read


Political ideolgy
Political culture

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