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shows culture does matter - kind of

  • Aug 16, 2012
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This book contains some interesting articles about culture in politics. I think the authors do establish that different countries do have different political cultures. However, I don't think the book actually proves its title, namely that culture matters. It's never clear whether culture is a product of political institutions and economic conditions, or vice versa. It's just as possible much of the empirical evidence they cite could be used to justify the claim that culture is merely a manifestation of deeper factors. It's worth a read if you're interested in culture, but don't expect definitive answers.

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Dominic J Nardi ()
Ranked #77
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
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This collection of essays addresses a difficult question: Are some cultures better than others at creating freedom, prosperity, and justice? AlthoughCulture Mattersoffers varying responses to this politically incorrect question, its editors, Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington, as well as the bulk of its contributors, answer in some form of the affirmative. In an introduction, Harrison (author ofUnderdevelopment Is a State of Mind) writes in the third person of the movement he helps lead: "They are the intellectual heirs of Alexis de Tocqueville, who concluded that what made the American political system work was a culture congenial to democracy; Max Weber, who explained the rise of capitalism as essentially a cultural phenomenon rooted in religion; and Edward Banfield, who illuminated the cultural roots of poverty and authoritarianism in southern Italy, a case with universal applications." (The book, moreover, is dedicated to Banfield, "who has illuminated the path for so many of us.") For readers loath to make value judgments about cultures,Culture Mattersmay be tough going. But admirers ofTrustby Francis Fukuyama,The Wealth and Poverty of Nationsby David Landes, and any number of books byThomas Sowellwill find much to admire on these pages. Fukuyama and Landes, in fact, have written chapters--along with Barbara Crossette, Robert Edgerton, Nathan Glazer, Seymour Martin Lipset, Orlando Patterson, Lucian Pye, Jeffrey Sachs, and many others. In an especially ...
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