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The Theory of Political Culture$
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Stephen Welch

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553334

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553334.001.0001

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Theoretical Displacement (I): Materialist Alternatives to Political Culture Research

Theoretical Displacement (I): Materialist Alternatives to Political Culture Research

(p.62) (p.63) 3 Theoretical Displacement (I): Materialist Alternatives to Political Culture Research
The Theory of Political Culture

Stephen Welch

Oxford University Press

Chapters 3 and 4 turn to approaches to political analysis which seek to displace political culture from the centre of attention, and show how they fail to do so. Chapter 3 examines ‘materialist’ displacements, in particular rational choice theory and Marxism. Rational choice theory has been recognized as the chief rival to cultural explanation in political science, but it actually has much in common with it, since both rely on unexamined assumptions about the nature of human motivation. Marxism originated in a critique of ‘idealist’ cultural explanations, and sought to deal with culture by displacing it onto the class structure. Yet the deterministic implications of this displacement have led to recurrent attempts to develop a more sophisticated theory of the political role of culture, notably under the heading of ‘hegemony’ by Gramsci and his successors in social history and cultural studies. The failure of these attempts is demonstrated.

Keywords:   rational choice theory, behavioural economics, marxism, cultural marxism, dominant ideology thesis, antonio gramsci, hegemony, e. p. thompson, cultural studies

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