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June 27, 2014

Political Symbolism

Every society constructs a way of explaining the world and various natural phenomena such as those in which man intervenes. Culture is the set of symbols, norms, beliefs, ideals, customs, myths and rituals that are passed down from generation to generation, giving identity to members of a community and directs, guides and gives meaning to their different social tasks. The culture of a society gives consistency to the extent therein are condensed inheritances, shared images and collective experiences that give people a sense of belonging, as it is through recognizing itself in what is proper. Politics is the sphere of society on the organization of power. It is the place where decisions are made that have social projection. The values, ideas and attitudes that are geared towards specifically political, i.e. the set of elements that form the subjective perception which has a population about the power, it is called political culture (Bonnell, 6).
The notion of political culture is as old as the reflection itself on the political life of a community. The political culture of a nation is the particular distribution of patterns of counseling to a specific set of social objects the political itself among the members of that nation. The political system internalized beliefs, ideas, feelings and evaluations of a population, or most of it. Ultimately, the common theme of political symbolism is the set of relations of domination and subjugation, that is, relations of power and authority are the axes around which political life is structured. It is the collective built around issues of power, influence, authority and its counterpart, the subjection, submission, obedience and of course, resistance and rebellion. Thus, the question of political symbolism aims to investigate how a population perceives the universe of relationships that have to do with the exercise of command and obedience, and how the assumed, what kind of attitudes, reactions and expectations causes, and how they have an impact on the political universe.
That subjective code that shaped the political symbolism ranging from the beliefs, convictions and conceptions of political life situation to use values ​​to desirable ends thereof, and inclinations and attitudes towards the political system , or its actors , processes or specific political phenomena (Adams, 5). To the extent that a concept that aims to be a tool of knowledge, i.e. pursuing and apprehending accurately describe some phenomenon of reality, is increasingly being used more and more widely, suffering acquires implications and adjustments, so that it is not uncommon to go popularized use diluted its original meaning, losing substance and eventually explanatory power. This detracts analytical potential and makes a ' category', i.e. in a category that is used to explain almost anything. In a way, this has happened to the concept of political culture because it is easy to use and has a tendency to generalization.
The political symbolism differs from other concepts also related to subjective elements that guide the interaction of social actors in the field of power relations in scope and durability. Political ideology refers more to a sector bounded and differential population to it as a whole, as does the political culture, which has a national general claim. Unlike political attitude, which is also an intermediate variable between an opinion (verbal behavior) and behavior (active behavior), which is a response to a given situation, political culture refers to consolidated guidelines, rooted, less exposed to joints and specific movements that beset society regularly. Instead, the political attitude is a mindset, a lean, organized according to particular political issues that often change. Political attitudes are a component of the political culture but this is not limited to those.
Since it is an essentially psychological, political symbolism also clearly differentiates political behavior. The latter refers to behavior that somehow objective is an expression of political culture and is that the political culture is a basic component of the political game because it filters perceptions, attitudes and influences determines the modes of political conduct and behavior.
The concept of political symbolism born linked to the issue of modernization, that is, the problem of the transition from a traditional to a modern society and the impact that this process generates about power relations (Elkins & Richard, 132). In fact, the basic approach is part of the dichotomy that distinguishes Western culture (modern) to Western culture (traditional). Theories of modernization are, in fact, more explicit attempts to define the phenomenon of political culture, that is, are those that best explain why and how this concept was coined. The distinction between tradition and modernity has been crucial to the analysis of political cultures of nations under development, which were essentially the case that led to the construction of the political culture approach.
According to its theorists, modernization started with the introduction of technology into the production process and movements mainly accompanied industrialization, urbanization and extension of the use of media and information, resulting in increasing the capabilities of a company to leverage human and financial resources. The increase in property, satisfiers and resources which circulates the modernization process generates social needs and aspirations that did not exist and an expansion of life choices. Generates, in short, a true revolution of rising expectations. All these changes conflict with the existing structures and political relations, leading to imbalances and conflicts that threaten the stability of the political order.
Put another way, changes to which it is subjected in modernizing society extend beyond the borders of the economic sphere where it originates. The explosion of aspirations of not finding appropriate channels to satisfy, resulting in pressures that threaten the stability of political systems. The challenge faced by companies in the process of modernization is to be able to undertake its corresponding institutional transformation, i.e. to achieve establish new political structures and therefore, new power relations, able to collect the demands of social forces arising the process of social transformation.
The modernization also disrupts traditional patterns of community identity and social integration. The new demographics and the opening of the social spectrum that cause urban and industrial developments involve a breach of the principles, values ​​and traditional norms that once linked to a population in the social, cultural and political. Old ethnic ties, religious or kinship, typical of traditional societies, are slowly losing their powers and flush identifier integrated, requiring replacement. In that way, the pressures of modernization on political systems are not limited to claims of material demands but include claims related to normative and evaluative conflict.
The challenge posed by the transit modernization also implies the establishment of a new political structure to absorb the demands and expectations that are flourishing, providing a code capable of restoring the power of solidarity cracked. It is about building a political structure capable of responding to the new demands of social actors and a new moral code and valid representations for the whole society. Since most developed societies, which had modernized early, managed to overcome the imbalances own process, their political schemes provided the model for countries undergoing modernization. According to modernization theorists, the representative democratic system had proven to be the most appropriate to adapt industrialized and urbanized societies to changes. Meanwhile, companies in the process of modernization had adopted the constitutional model of liberal, claimed as universally valid, but in practice had been established as more or less authoritarian. It seemed clear that there were not enough good constitutions to ensure a democratic government. What prevented, then, that worked democratic institutions established by law? The problem was not, as a matter of formal structures, but the actual performance or behavior of the same, which forced to turn their eyes to the cultural basis of such structures. Put another way, government systems should have adequate political culture, that is, values ​​and symbols concerning the political field were sufficiently socialized among the population.
Following the idea of ​​political symbolism, there is therefore an implicit assumption that societies need a consensus on values ​​and norms to support their political institutions and to legitimize their processes. According to the above, a democratic political culture is a fundamental pillar of a stable democratic system, in other words, for it to work permanently is necessary to build a cultural pattern identified with democratic principles. The importance of political symbolism and its connection with political stability and government performance becomes more evident if we consider that the survival and effectiveness of a government depends largely on possessing legitimacy in the eyes of citizens, is, the coincidence between what is conceived and expects the population of the authorities and public structures and performance of these. In sum, the concept and focus on political symbolism born linked to a positive assessment of liberal democracy, to the extent that what was sought was to define the pillars of support. Hence, the allegedly 'neutral' and the concept of political symbolism had in fact an ideological function to legitimize the democratic model of the advanced countries.
Due to the enrollment in the behavioral approach, the concept of political symbolism emerged more specifically linked to the empirical theory of democracy. The existence of a civic culture in a given population can be identified through empirical methods ( surveys, polls , interviews) and can be evaluated using indicators on the values, beliefs and conceptions that shares most of population.
The Premises of Democratic Political symbolism
All political culture is a composite of values ​​and perceptions, as such, does not include a single type orientations but generally combines perceptions and democratic convictions and / or modern patterns of more or less authoritarian and / or traditional. However, speaking of democratic political culture must understand that there is a dominant pattern that determines what we might call the premises of the cultural construction of a democracy. There are two main procedures to infer the properties of the political culture in question : 1 ) from the social and economic conditions , as well as existing political institutions in a democratic society , and 2 ) from the attitudes presented in such democratic systems. A combination of the two can give a broad overview of the distinctive features of democratic political culture. There are three major types of orientations:
1.      Cognitive, which refers to information and the knowledge we have on the political system as a whole and on their roles and actors in particular;
2.      Effective, refers to the feelings that you have about the political system and that can be attachment or rejection, and
3.      Evaluative, referred to the judgments and opinions that people have about the political system (Hunt, 17).
There are two major political objects to which these guidelines are addressed: 1) the general political system or its individual components (government, courts , legislatures , political parties, pressure groups , etc.) and 2) self as basic political actor.
A political culture is more or less democratic to the extent that cognitive components are extracting lead to evaluative and especially affective. Thus, in a democratic society, policies and public attitudes toward politics are depending more on the knowledge gained on problems and political phenomena of more or less spontaneous perceptions, which are from impressions and information thereof. Similarly, a population that shares a democratic political culture is not only related with the institutions that respond to the demands of citizens formulating decrees, regulations or policies that affect them, but also with those who formulate and give projection through social organization, that is, have propositional attitudes, not just reactive against government performance.
Regarding the perception people have of yourself, share a democratic political culture implies seen as protagonist of the political future, as a member of a society with the capacity to be heard to organize and to demand government goods and services and to negotiate conditions life and work in short, have an impact on policy decisions and monitor projection. Civic culture combines modern aspects with traditional views and conceives the citizen active in politics enough to be able to express their preferences to the government, without this take to reject the decisions of the political elite, i.e. to hinder the performance of government. The citizen feels able to influence the government, but often choose not to, giving it a margin of flexibility in its management. The civic model therefore presupposes the existence of active and interested individuals, but at the same time responsible and caring, or to maintain stable democratic system requires a "balanced disparities", i.e. a combination of deference to authority a vivid sense of the rights of the citizens' initiative. Put another way, the civic culture is a political culture that sees democratic government as one in weighing the demands of the population, but must also ensure peaceful and stable exercise of power, that is, its effective functioning or governance.
Summary and Conclusion
The strength and depth that characterizes the collective imagination , the overlap between culture and political structure and the relationship that keeps the political sphere with other planes and the economic and social organization itself, make difficult the task of trying to make proposals to drive orientations and democratic attitudes in a population, i.e. to build a cultural fabric that gives firm support democratic institutions. If we consider companies that are still moving through a modernization process, in which the basic needs or materials continue to occupy the center of the concerns of its inhabitants, where secularization is insufficient because there are still political authority schemes in personal reasons of patrimonial power concepts in the application of the rules and where political structures are defined formally democratic give away to meet the principles of checks and balances of plurality and competition. It is difficult to think of a work transmission of democratic values ​​and attitudes with a real chance of falling on fertile ground.
Moreover, one of the salient features of this time of the century is the rapid change we are experiencing different societies, not only in its internal dimension but also in the international arena. A changing environment as it results in cultural change, it is true, does not necessarily have a progressive sense, since that may mean a return to dogmatic or fundamentalist perceptions, but that can be leveraged specifically to promote a more open and pluralistic culture in a word, modern (Somers, 141).
In circumstances such as those described, it appears that the relevant concept is to think of a combined task in which transiting go towards building structures in practice work more effectively as democratic adhere to the law, to promote the control of the citizen representation on governmental acts that encourage institutionalized political struggle as a means to settle differences and channeling aspirations of power, at the same time instilling go through socializing institutions (family, school, media) the benefits of civic culture (interpersonal trust, recognition of the right of others to think and live differently, the virtues of participation, etc.). This task is, in countries where the state has traditionally played a vital safeguard to dip institutional reserve account which the process moves forward. However, the promotion of a democratic culture can no longer be thought of as a work competence exclusively to the state, but has to be a company involving social and political institutions. The more influence they have on society for its prestige or penetration, the greater the impact they cause.
They should contribute to that mission, therefore, the public and private educational institutions and the mass media in a privileged way, but also intellectuals and political parties, and other social institutions with great presence, such as churches and the emerging NGOs. That is, it is a task that must be set from the deep conviction of the benefits of the development of a democratic political culture. Democratic political culture already has a positive almost universal, not only because in the twenty-first century democracy as a system of government has been vindicated by the failure of other paradigms, but because it is evaluative code that best fits the heterogeneous societies, not only in terms of race, ethnic or religious, but of interests, beliefs and even individual preferences, as they are today the vast majority of societies.


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