Philippine Political Culture


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Lecture slides for an undergraduate class on Philippine Politics and Governance I taught between 2003 and 2005. These slides deal with the concept of political culture, borrowing heavily from David Wurfel's study of the Philippines'.

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  • Learning Objectives: 1.) To impart a basic understanding of the concept of political culture 2.) To become acquainted with characteristics of political culture in the Philippines
  • Clearly, there is a highly emotive element to political culture. It is based on how we see politics in practice, and thus shapes how we think and feel about politics. As such, it further shapes how we think we should participate in politics  “the role of the self in the system”
  • This is a simplistic, stylized model of how culture, through political culture, affects political behavior. Remember Wurfel: “Every aspect of a people’s culture may have at least some remote consequence for politics.” (p. 24) Note, however, that the efficacy of political culture is not absolute. While political culture to a large extent does lend some predictability to the practice of politics in a particular place, it does not determine the conduct of politics 100% of the time. There will of course be exceptions. By and large, this stems from the fact that culture is complex and admits many counter- and sub-cultures within its ambit.
  • Note: in the subsequent slides, all distinctions are not absolute. Dividing lines are certainly blurred in practice. While distinctions between kinds of political orientations or views on the political process may be somewhat academic, they are useful insofar as they enable us to better understand how politics in the Philippines is practiced.
  • Parochial: Not much is known about the political process and not many people really care anyway. It is precisely parochial because very few people (“insiders”) know what’s going on to begin with. Everybody else is generally indifferent. Participant: the exact opposite of parochial. The political process is extremely transparent, and people feel that it is their right to constantly participate in the political process. Subject: somewhere in between. While there is some knowledge of the political process, its inputs and outputs, people limit their participation to certain avenues (e.g. elections) and are generally content to allow politics to run its course as it is. In the Philippines, a subject political culture is more or less prevalent, although you can make the argument that this is shifting towards a participant one. Note: The argument can also be made that the development from a parochial to a participant political culture constitutes modernization of a political culture (i.e. that participant political cultures are more modern than parochial ones).
  • Philippine Political Culture

    1. 1. Understanding Philippine Political Culture
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>What is political culture ? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we describe the political culture of the Philippines ? </li></ul>
    3. 3. What is Political Culture? <ul><li>“ The system of empirical beliefs , expressive symbols and values which defines the situation in which political action takes place.” </li></ul><ul><li>Consists of attitudes towards the political system , its various parts and the role of the self in the system. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Political Culture <ul><li>Political culture influences how people behave with respect to politics . </li></ul>CULTURE POLITICAL CULTURE POLITICAL BEHAVIOR
    5. 5. Political Culture in terms of… <ul><li>Political Orientation </li></ul><ul><li>The Political Process </li></ul><ul><li>Modernity (of the Political Culture) </li></ul><ul><li>Legitimacy </li></ul><ul><li>Social capital </li></ul>
    6. 6. Political Orientation <ul><li>Ideological </li></ul><ul><li>Political undertakings are rooted in ideology or principle . </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic </li></ul><ul><li>Politics is purely utilitarian and calculating </li></ul>
    7. 7. The Political Process Parochial participant subject Lack of knowledge/ interest in political input/output. Awareness of the process; belief in the right to participate. Awareness of the process, but more or less passive participation.
    8. 8. Modernity <ul><li>Sacral </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reliance on magico-religious beliefs to justify authority or explain behavior. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secular </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A rational-scientific belief system characterizes political activity. </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Legitimacy <ul><li>Legitimacy is the moral bond between citizens and state which obliges citizens to obey the state’s laws . </li></ul><ul><li>Derived from many sources : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Constitution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal Charisma </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Etc. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Social Capital <ul><li>Social capital = Societal trust and obligation . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Whom do you trust?” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regional/Linguistic groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religious groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnic groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Personalistic: “ utang na loob” </li></ul>
    11. 11. Notes on Usage <ul><li>Political culture, just like culture, pertains to general tendencies that are not absolute . </li></ul><ul><li>As an explanatory variable, it is illustrative and descriptive . </li></ul><ul><li>Philippine political culture is a confluence of these characteristics. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Summary <ul><li>Political culture affects the conduct of politics, though not absolutely. </li></ul><ul><li>Ideological v. pragmatic </li></ul><ul><li>Parochial v. Subject v. Participant </li></ul><ul><li>Sacral v. Secular </li></ul>
    13. 13. Summary <ul><li>Legitimacy is a moral bond derived from many sources. </li></ul><ul><li>Social capital in the Philippines is highly stratified and personalistic. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Summary <ul><li>To describe Philippine political culture, or any political culture, entails examining the different characteristics of that culture. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Further reading… <ul><li>Almond, G.A. and Sydney Verba. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations . Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1965. </li></ul><ul><li>Pye, L. Asian power and politics: The cultural dimensions of authority . Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1985. </li></ul><ul><li>Pye, L. and Sydney Verba. Political Culture and Political Development . Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965 </li></ul>
    16. 16. Even Further Reading… <ul><li>Timberman, D.G. A Changeless Land: Continuity and Change in Philippine Politics . Manila: Bookmark, 1991. </li></ul><ul><li>Wurfel, D. Philippine Politics: Development and Decay . Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1988. </li></ul>
    17. 17. -fin-