chapter  10
20 Pages

Cultural Pluralism Can Both Strengthen and Weaken Democracy

ByAaron Wildavsky, Charles Lockhart, Richard M. Coughlin

This chapter utilizes the cultural theory stemming from the work of Mary Douglas to establish the political cultural conditions under which pluralism strengthens or weakens democracy. The political cultures of the United States may be considered a combination of weak hierarchy, strong individualism, and fluctuating egalitarianism. Coalitions were formed with the preeminent goal of ending the "stalemate" by implanting a new political system that would allow effective decision-making in line with the preferences of the coalition members. In terms of political culture, Europe, in general, may be counted as having very strong hierarchy, moderate individualism, and weak egalitarianism. Therefore, the two establishments differed: hierarchy was dominant in Europe and individualism in America. The threshold for a definitive crisis in the political system was reached when most of the political actors focused on changing the rules of the "political game" altogether, instead of trying to obtain gains within the existing rules.